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Rand Paul puts hold on Trump nominee over surveillance concerns

Rand Paul puts hold on Trump nominee over surveillance concerns
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Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulNoisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks Five things to watch for in deteriorating US-Saudi relations MORE (R-Ky.) is putting a hold on one of President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE's picks to the Justice Department over concerns about the nominee's views on warrantless wiretaps and surveillance, The Daily Beast reported.

Paul, who sits on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has temporarily blocked John Demers's nomination to be assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

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The position is one of three in the Justice Department with the authority to issue Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants, which allow the government to conduct surveillance on non-American targets outside the United States, even when they communicate with Americans.

So-called Section 702 surveillance, named after the part of FISA authorizing the spy program, has been controversial. Civil libertarians have pushed to reform the law, saying it provides a backdoor for authorities to surveil American citizens.

Demers is currently assistant general counsel at Boeing and has spoken favorably about Section 702 surveillance.

One former National Security Division official told the news service that Demers was “unobjectionable and not particularly partisan,” and stated that officials in the division were relieved to hear Trump had nominated the largely uncontroversial nominee to the post.

Earlier this week, Paul threatened to filibuster any long-term extension of Section 702. Section 702 was set to expire at the end of the year but lawmakers passed a short-term extension in a spending bill.

“I will actively oppose and filibuster any long term extension of warrantless searches of American citizens,” Paul tweeted on Wednesday.