Trump Calls To ‘Kill FISA’ Bill That Threatens Citizen Privacy

Former president and presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump is pushing for Congress to “kill” a controversial piece of legislation that could be misused to spy on American citizens.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is designed to allow federal law enforcement to gather information on foreign nationals suspected of involvement in crimes, including drug-related offenses. However, Section 702 of the act extends authorization to question American citizens who have foreign contacts, threatening to invade the privacy of individual communications.

A reauthorization bill is currently being debated and will reach the House of Representatives this week for a final vote. On his Truth Social account, Trump wrote, “Kill FISA,” saying it has been “illegally used against me and many others.” He added an accusation that the federal government had “spied on my campaign” while citing the act.

While concerns circulate about the privacy of American citizens’ communications, the proposal includes a caveat that protects members of Congress from being subjected to the same scrutiny.

According to this section of the bill in question, which was shared via X by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director is required to “promptly notify” Congress members if a probe is being conducted that could lead to the identification of a lawmaker.

Federal representatives and senators are also granted the ability to consent to or refuse the FBI’s request to use “restricted personal information” for the purposes of conducting an inquiry through FISA.

Massie also noted in his April 9 post that the caveat protecting members of Congress “will persuade many” of them “to vote yes” on the controversial reauthorization bill.

But the carve out to protect the privacy of federal lawmakers was not the only amendment to the legislation that has been passed during the current debate. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) successfully spearheaded an effort to ensure that the FBI “report[s] to Congress” the “number of U.S. person queries conducted” every quarter.

A motion to allow chairs and ranking members of the Judiciary and Intelligence House and Senate committees, Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate, the Minority Leader and the Speaker of the House to attend hearings in the FISA court was also approved.

Additionally, Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) have also suggested an amendment allowing Section 702 to aid in actions to “vet foreigners traveling to the United States,” which is being considered in the House.

Trump’s recent denouncement of FISA follows a track record of the presidential candidate’s views on the legislation, which sparked confusion in 2018, during his first term in the White House.

Although initially supported by his administration, then-president Trump soon blasted the six-year renewal of Section 702 as the same ploy used to “so badly surveil and abuse the Trump campaign by the previous administration.”