The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday that will prevent future “spying” abuses that were seen and exposed during the Trump-Russia investigation.
The bipartisan legislation will reauthorize FBI crime-fighting tools that were set to expire Sunday and to reform the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court process that was used to allow the Obama-led FBI to spy on the Trump campaign.
USA Freedom Reauthorization Act passed by a 278-136 vote and had bipartisan support from lawmakers who wanted improvements to protect Americans’ privacy and safeguard against surveillance abuses.
Attorney General Bill Barr, certainly not someone Democrats like or have supported, said he supported the passage of the FISA bill, saying it “will protect against abuse and misuse in the future.”
“I have reviewed the House FISA bill and support its passage,” Barr said in a statement Wednesday. “The bill contains an array of new requirements and compliance provisions that will protect against abuse and misuse in the future while ensuring that this critical tool is available when appropriate to protect the safety of the American people.”
The bill includes enhanced congressional oversight of the FISA process, penalties for those who abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) process for political purposes, and the requirement to have transcripts of court proceedings.
Fox News reports:
At issue were three surveillance provisions that are set to expire Sunday, including one that permits the FBI to obtain our orders to collect business records on subjects in national security investigations. Another, known as the “roving wiretap” provision, permits surveillance on subjects even after they’ve changed phones, and to monitor subjects who don’t have ties to international terrorist organizations.
The bill seeks to rein in a controversial portion of the surveillance powers, known as Section 215, which gives the government broad powers to demand “business records” from companies in the name of national security investigations.
The National Security Agency (NSA) previously used Section 215 to collect bulk phone data records, which was highly controversial. In recent years, the bulk metadata collection was outlawed and a narrowly tailored program was allowed, but now that program would be officially ended under the legislation.
The new legislation will also require the attorney general to personally sign off on surveilling government officials.
The IG report released last year provided a horrifying glimpse into how the Obama-led FBI was able to spy on the Trump campaign.
Below are some high-points of what Horowitz found:
- There was extreme bias against then-candidate Trump.
- FBI officials deliberately doctored evidence they presented to the nation’s top spy court in order to gain authority to spy on a key Trump affiliate.
- The FBI and the Justice Department’s review committee failed to comply with attorney general guidelines requiring timely validation.
- Investigators uncovered issues with FBI employees who conducted validation reviews, noting they did not “review the full scope” of a long-term source’s work for the FBI.
- The inspector general found “at least 17 significant errors or omissions” concerning FBI efforts to obtain secret FISA warrants against Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Barr has appointed special prosecutor John H. Durham to investigate the origins of the Russia probe, and he reportedly shifted his investigation into a criminal inquiry.
It certainly appears that Barr and Durham have already found evidence of criminal wrongdoing regarding the FBI’s surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016.