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Trump urges GOP to vote against bill reauthorizing surveillance powers

President TrumpDonald TrumpFacebook temporarily bans ads for weapons accessories following Capitol riots Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Section 230 worked after the insurrection, but not before: How to regulate social media MORE on Tuesday evening urged House Republicans to vote against a surveillance bill that will be brought to the floor this week after lawmakers reached an agreement to vote on a key provision.

“I hope all Republican House Members vote NO on FISA until such time as our Country is able to determine how and why the greatest political, criminal, and subversive scandal in USA history took place!” Trump tweeted, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

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Trump's tweet comes after months of speculation about whether he would support the bill and less than a day before it is scheduled to get a vote on the House floor Wednesday, throwing an eleventh-hour curveball into its path.

The Senate approved legislation in a bipartisan vote earlier this month reauthorizing three expired surveillance programs under the USA Freedom Act, a 2015 intelligence reform law.

The initial version of the bill, which passed the House in a 278-136 vote in March, included some changes to the FISA court as part of a deal backed by Attorney General William BarrBill BarrJustice Dept. blasts Mexico's decision to close probe of former defense minister Acting attorney general condemns Capitol riots, warns 'no tolerance' for violence at Biden inauguration Barr, White House counsel told Trump not to self-pardon: report MORE and supported by some of Trump's biggest allies, including Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanMcCarthy won't back effort to oust Cheney Wyoming GOP shares 'outcry' it has received about Cheney's impeachment vote The Memo: Historic vote leaves Trump more isolated than ever MORE (R-Ohio) and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP An attack on America that's divided Congress — and a nation The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history MORE (R-S.C.).

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But the Senate included new legal protections for some FISA warrant applications in a win for civil liberties-minded lawmakers, and the amended bill passed 80-16, forcing it to go back to the House for a second vote. The Justice Department opposed the changes, saying that they would "unacceptably degrade" the U.S. government's ability to carry out surveillance.

Trump’s tweet Tuesday came hours after House leaders agreed to consider an amendment that would tighten the limits on the FBI’s ability to access Americans’ web browsing history. A similar provision was defeated by one vote in the Senate, where senators who would have supported it were absent, putting pressure on House leadership to revive it.

But in another potential setback for the bill, Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSection 230 worked after the insurrection, but not before: How to regulate social media Senate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster Overnight Health Care: Biden unveils COVID-19 relief plan | Post-holiday surge hits new deadly records | Senate report faults 'broken' system for insulin price hikes MORE (D-Ore.), who helped spearhead the Senate amendment, said Tuesday night that he could not support the House version from Reps. Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenLawmakers briefed on 'horrifying,' 'chilling' security threats ahead of inauguration Efforts to secure elections likely to gain ground in Democrat-controlled Congress Capitol Police chief announces resignation after pro-Trump riots MORE (D-Calif.) and Warren DavidsonWarren Earl DavidsonREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Top GOP lawmakers call for Swalwell to be removed from Intelligence Committee House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit MORE (R-Ohio). Wyden pointed to a statement by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSunday shows preview: Washington prepares for an inauguration and impeachment; coronavirus surges across the US What our kids should know after the Capitol Hill riot  Pelosi names 9 impeachment managers MORE (D-Calif.), who appeared to interpret the House amendment as only preventing warrantless collection under the program when the order specifically targets an American.

"It is now clear that there is no agreement with the House Intelligence Committee to enact true protections for Americans rights against dragnet collection of online activity, which is why I must oppose this amendment, along with the underlying bill, and urge the House to vote on the original Wyden-Daines amendment," Wyden said in a statement. 

Trump has long alleged that FISA was abused by the FBI to improperly surveil members of his 2016 campaign and undermine his White House bid. The president suggested in March that he was considering vetoing legislation under consideration by the Senate renewing the surveillance powers; that was a different version than the bill that ultimately passed by the upper chamber earlier in May.

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Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Legislatures boost security after insurrection, FBI warnings Former Missouri senator says backing Hawley was 'worst mistake of my life' MORE (R-Ky.), who voted against the legislation in the Senate, has been urging Trump to oppose the bill, but he, like many of his GOP colleagues, acknowledged earlier this month that he didn't know where Trump would come down.

“Whether or not he’ll actually get involved ... that’s the real question on this, and I don’t know how it will come down,” Paul said ahead of the Senate's vote

A Justice Department inspector general investigation completed last year faulted the FBI for errors and omissions in surveillance applications used to wiretap former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page as part of the bureau’s investigation into Russian interference.

The internal watchdog review did not find evidence that agents were motivated by bias in their decisions to open investigations into Trump campaign associates, however, undermining a key talking point of Trump and his GOP allies.

Graham is doing a deep dive into the FBI investigation, including the FISA court and the Page warrant applications. He's hoping to release a report on his findings by October, before the election, and to potentially offer additional FISA-related legislation. 
 
“We’re going to investigate the investigators and try to find out how Hurricane Crossfire got off the rails,” Graham said earlier this month.  

Tal Axelrod contributed.

Updated: 9:25 p.m.