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National Security & Defense

Trump Admin Drafting Major FISA Reform ahead of March Expiration

President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Phoenix, Ariz., February 19, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The White House is pondering a serious overhaul to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as President Trump continues to rail against the way the surveillance powers were used against his 2016 campaign.

The plan, which would prioritize transparency, is likely to draw resistance from the National Security Council, according to the Wall Street Journal. A potential option, per sources, is that those subject to a FISA warrant could later be notified that they had been surveilled — a disclosure associated with criminal wiretap law and supported by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Trump has consistently criticized FISA in the fallout of the FBI’s operation Crossfire Hurricane, which used FISA warrants to spy on members of his campaign. “We were abused by the FISA process; there’s no question about it,” the president said earlier this month. “We were seriously abused by FISA.”

Department of Justice inspector general Michael Horowitz released a report in December detailing “at least 17” abuses in the FBI investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign, which has led to increased scrutiny on the process as a whole. With some of FISA’s powers set to expire in March, the White House reportedly wants to take advantage of the reauthorization deadline in order to implement reforms.

The experience of the 2016 Trump campaign has prompted calls for FISA process reform among congressional Republicans. Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah) told National Review in December that Republicans were planning on “major reforms to be introduced and hopefully incorporated into the program before it expires in March.”

“There’s got to be major reform,” Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) told Tucker Carlson in December. “We cannot allow this to keep happening.”

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