House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La. is calling for broad reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process after alleged abuses during the course of the Russia investigation.
Appearing on “America’s Newsroom” with hosts Sandra Smith and Ed Henry, Scalise said Wednesday that he has “very strong concerns” about those who abused the process being “held accountable” for their actions.
“And frankly, if people go to jail for abusing that court, I don’t think we’re going to see those [kinds] of abuses again in the future,” he added. “But, I am concerned that the bill that’s moving through this week is not, frankly, including enough of the reforms and criminal penalties that need to be included to make sure that if somebody does abuse the FISA court they will be held accountable.”
Barr told Republican senators he’ll be making executive changes to clean up the significant errors and omissions outlined by Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz in applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to eavesdrop on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page as part of the FBI’s Russia investigation. A major aspect of the report exposed the degree to which the FBI had relied on an unverified dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele as part of opposition research for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
However, according to Politico, Barr clashed with GOP FISA critics. And, with House Democrats eyeing their own revisions to the legislation, some Senate Republicans fear a deal to extend the law might be nearly impossible.
Additionally, Wray told the House Judiciary Committee that none of the provisions at issue for renewal have anything to do with the mistakes made in the Lisa Page case and urged lawmakers to keep the issues separate.
“They are vital to our relentless efforts to keep something like 325 million American people safe,” Wray said of the surveillance powers.
Attorney General William Barr, right, next to FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich, speaks during a news conference, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, at the Justice Department in Washington. Four members of the Chinese military have been charged with breaking into the networks of the Equifax credit reporting agency and stealing the personal information of tens of millions of Americans, the Justice Department said Monday, blaming Beijing for one of the largest hacks in history. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
“We need to keep those tools in place,” Scalise urged. “They’re vital to our national security, but they were abused. And, if they’re abused again, then people need to be held accountable and the penalties need to fit the crime. Which, right now, I don’t think they do.”
“Unfortunately, Jerry Nadler is trying to make this a very partisan process where he is shutting out the Republican side. But, he would be well-served to work with both parties and sit down with Congressman Jordan on the reforms that he and the members of his committee have been looking at and responsibly putting together,” he advised.
“So far, we’re not seeing that cooperation. But, we’re going to push for the kind of reforms that are necessary to make sure that this important national security tool maintains the ability and integrity that it deserves with criminal penalties on the other side if somebody abuses the process like we’ve already seen,” the Louisiana congressman promised.
Scalise said he hoped the Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham — who will author a new report on the Mueller probe — would “literally name names” of those who abused the FISA court and “layout penalties” that Barr can carry out.
“There is still a lot left to do by the attorney general to hold people accountable who abused the process,” he concluded. “And, I hope he does.”
Fox News’ Yael Halon, Marisa Schultz, Jason Donner, Talia Kaplan, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.