President Trump slams FISA Act, then asks Congress to renew it

Posted at 9:53 AM, Jan 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-11 10:14:54-05

President Donald Trump on Thursday complicated a closely coordinated effort between his administration and congressional Republican leadership on a six-year extension of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, otherwise known as FISA.

"'House votes on controversial FISA ACT today.' This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?" Trump tweeted.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNN's request for clarification on whether the President supports the bill, on which it has been working closely with congressional Republican leadership to secure the votes for reauthorization.

Trump attempted to clean up the confusion surrounding his tweet later Thursday morning, writing, "With that being said, I have personally directed the fix to the unmasking process since taking office and today's vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it! Get smart!"

On Tuesday, the White House issued a statement of support for the bill, saying that Section 702 "is vital to keeping the nation safe" and that reauthorizing the bill before its expiration "is a top priority of the administration."

Section 702, which allows the intelligence community to monitor foreign communications, is set to expire January 19. Critics of the program argue that it allows the warrantless collection of US citizens' private information.

The dossier to which Trump referred is an opposition research document that was compiled on him during the election, and it includes unverified allegations that the Russian government has compromising personal and financial information about the President.

CNN has reported that the FBI in 2016 used the dossier as part of the justification to win approval from the secret court that oversees FISA to secretly monitor a Trump associate.

The secret court that oversees FISA also authorized the surveillance of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The reauthorization is potentially a politically fraught issue on Capitol Hill. In a CNN interview on Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who frequently champions civil liberties issues, threatened to filibuster the reauthorization, citing privacy concerns.

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