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Trump urges GOP to vote against bill reauthorizing surveillance powers

President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 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 BarrPolice accountability board concludes that Seattle police officers used excessive force during encounters with protesters Trump hasn't asked Barr to open investigation into Bidens, McEnany says Seattle, Portland, NYC sue Trump administration over threat to pull federal money MORE and supported by some of Trump's biggest allies, including Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanSunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day McCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments McCarthy: 'I would think I already have the votes' to remain as House GOP leader MORE (R-Ohio) and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump expressed doubt to donors GOP can hold Senate: report Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day Lou Dobbs goes after Lindsey Graham: 'I don't know why anyone' would vote for him  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 WydenPlaintiff and defendant from Obergefell v. Hodges unite to oppose Barrett's confirmation Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing House Democrats slam FCC chairman over 'blatant attempt to help' Trump 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 LofgrenWhy prevailing wage reform matters for H-1B visas Fears grow of voter suppression in Texas Business groups start gaming out a Biden administration MORE (D-Calif.) and Warren DavidsonWarren Earl DavidsonHillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns MORE (R-Ohio). Wyden pointed to a statement by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGreenwald slams Schiff over Biden emails on Fox Hillicon Valley: DOJ accuses Russian hackers of targeting 2018 Olympics, French elections | Federal commission issues recommendations for securing critical tech against Chinese threats | House Democrats slam FCC over 'blatant attempt to help' Trump Federal commission issues recommendations for securing critical tech against Chinese threats 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 PaulTwo Loeffler staffers test positive for COVID-19 Michigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 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.