President Trump on Thursday warned he could veto the newly House-passed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act bill until the origins of the Russia probe, which he called an “attempted coup,” are investigated.
“Many Republican Senators want me to Veto the FISA Bill until we find out what led to, and happened with, the illegal attempted ‘coup’ of the duly elected President of the United States, and others!” Trump tweeted Thursday.
Many Republican Senators want me to Veto the FISA Bill until we find out what led to, and happened with, the illegal attempted “coup” of the duly elected President of the United States, and others!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2020
The comments come after the House passed legislation with broad bipartisan support to reauthorize FBI crime-fighting tools that are set to expire on March 15. The bill would reform the FISA court process that has especially been under the microscope in the Russia investigation.
The USA Freedom Reauthorization Act — which passed by a 278-136 vote — brought together the most vocal supporters of Trump, like Reps. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and some of his fiercest critics like Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who wanted improvements to protect Americans’ privacy and safeguard against surveillance abuses.
The bill includes enhanced congressional oversight of the FISA process, penalties for those who abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) for political purposes, and the requirement to have transcripts of court proceedings.
Despite the bill’s passage in the House, the Senate is expected to leave Washington D.C. Thursday evening without reviewing the legislation and is not slated to return until Monday, meaning the current FISA will expire on Sunday, ahead of its passage in the upper chamber, and before it reaches the president’s desk.
The bill was supported, not only by many pro-Trump House Republicans, but also by Attorney General Bill Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray, who said it will protect against future “abuse and misuse.”
“The legislation begins to address the problems that we saw with the FBI’s illegal surveillance of Trump campaign associate Carter Page,” Jordan said.
But Page blasted the bill as a “sham” and a Republican “failure.”
“Just like the Republicans in Congress failed to achieve justice following the death of my friend Chris Stevens, this sham bill represents the latest lazy authorization of completely unchecked bureaucratic power,” Page said in a text message to Fox News Wednesday, referring to Stevens, a victim of the 2012 Benghazi attacks.
“After the Deep State put so many lives at risk, none of the corrupt perpetrators have been held accountable,” Page continued. “Meanwhile, Congress has still not authorized reparations fro the countless Trump supporters, who remain as powerless crime victims amidst all of the DOJ’s and the FBI’s lies.”
He added: “This remains a historic failure of epic proportions.”
The FBI sought to monitor Page in 2016 and 2017 and obtained a FISA warrant against him, as well as several reauthorizations. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz last year announced that the bureau made repeated errors and misrepresentations before the FISA Court in an effort to obtain the warrants against Page. The FISC later found that those warrants “lacked probable cause.”
Page was a central figure in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians government during the 2016 presidential election. Mueller did not find any wrongdoing by Page and was unable to substantiate the anti-Trump dossier’s claims about him.
It is unclear, at this point, which Republican senators could have contacted the president to encourage him to veto the legislation, as he said, should it pass in the upper chamber.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., though, is investigating the origins of the Russia investigation and the FBI’s use of FISA to conduct surveillance of Page. That investigation began last month.
Meanwhile, last year, Barr appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham of Connecticut to review the events leading up to the 2016 presidential election and the origins of the Russia probe, through Trump’s January 20, 2017 inauguration.
As Fox News first reported, Durham has since expanded his probe to cover a post-election timeline spanning the spring of 2017—when Mueller was appointed as special counsel to investigate Russian meddling and potential collusion with members of the Trump campaign during the last presidential election.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.
Author: Brooke Singman