Pro-Trump Republicans kill spy bill — RT World News

The former president encouraged his party to repeal a bill that the FBI used to spy on his campaign

A group of conservative lawmakers rejected House Speaker Mike Johnson's attempt to hold a vote on FISA funding. While this law had bipartisan support, the pro-Trump faction of the Republican Party has resented it since it was used to eavesdrop on the former president's campaign.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, drafted in 2008, gives US intelligence agencies the authority to monitor messages from abroad that are sent over US networks such as Google. This provision, which must be reauthorized every year by Congress, allows these agencies to collect data “indirectly” from millions of American citizens.

Once collected, this information is stored for five years, during which it can be searched – for example by name, phone number or email address – by agencies without a warrant.

Ahead of the April 19 deadline to renew Section 702, 19 conservative Republicans opposed a procedural vote on Wednesday that would have put the measure — along with three other unrelated bills — to a full vote later this week. With 193 votes in favor and 228 against, the vote was effectively postponed unless Johnson could regain the support of the 19 defectors.

Among the dissenters are staunch supporters of former President Donald Trump, such as Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz. Other Republican critics of the surveillance state, such as Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, voted to bring up Section 702, arguing that they deserved a chance at an open session. “Vote on whether the government needs a warrant to spy on you.” Massey wrote on X.

“I will not support any version of FISA that does not protect Americans from our government’s spying.” Green said after Wednesday's vote. “The American people deserve transparency in this process. If we cannot protect our citizens from their government, FISA must die!”

Before the vote, Trump turned to his “Social Truth” platform to encourage Republicans to do so “Kill FISA.”

“It has been used illegally against me and many others.” Trump continued, adding: “They spied on my campaign!!!”

Back in 2016, the FBI obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to monitor Carter Page, a Trump campaign aide. However, the agency's request for arrest was based largely on a dossier of scandalous and unsubstantiated conversations compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, and key information that would have ensured its rejection was omitted.

Along with a group of progressive Democrats, Gaetz, Greene and other conservatives want to revamp Section 702 to come with amendments that prohibit warrantless surveillance of American citizens.

After Wednesday's vote, Johnson told reporters on Capitol Hill that he would do so “Rework another plan.” To approve the controversial legislation, without providing further details. Bill “Very important for national security” he added. “I think most members understand that.”

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