Trump suggests he may veto surveillance bill
President Trump on Thursday said that “many” Republican senators want him to veto legislation reauthorizing expiring intelligence programs, an indication the president is considering doing so.
“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 morning, referring to the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference and contacts between his campaign and Moscow, which has not been deemed illegal.
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
Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), both of whom are allies of the president, have been pressing Trump to veto the House legislation reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), arguing it does not contain significant enough reforms.
The House version, which is backed by Attorney General William Barr, reauthorizes expiring intelligence programs and also includes broader changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The measure was passed by the House with bipartisan support on Wednesday in a 278-136 vote, setting up a vote in the Senate as soon as Thursday.
Congress has until the end of Sunday to reauthorize three expiring provisions of the USA Freedom Act.
A number of the president’s House allies voted in favor of the legislation Wednesday.
Asked Wednesday whether Trump was considering vetoing the bill, a White House official told The Hill that the president is interested in significant FISA reforms but is “carefully listening” to views of all Republicans.
“There is a lot of interest in the significant reform that conservatives drove to completion to address the abuses of FISA against him and other innocent members of the 2016 campaign,” the official said.
Trump has long charged that the FBI’s 2016 investigation of his campaign was an attempted coup orchestrated by agents biased against his presidential campaign.
A recent Justice Department inspector report found no evidence that officials were motivated by political bias in opening investigations into four Trump campaign associates.
At the same time, the inspector general sharply criticized the FBI’s handling of a surveillance warrant application to wiretap his onetime campaign adviser Carter Page; one Justice Department official has reportedly been referred for criminal investigation as a result of his actions.
No charges have been brought against officials for their actions in the probe, but the FISA court has barred officials under review for their actions in the Page wiretaps.
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