Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, says reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is paramount to protecting U.S. citizens’ right to privacy, warning that if a president of the United States can fall victim to misconduct, so can the average American.
Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, has been a leading voice for FISA reform for months. Jordan helped author the USA Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2020, which passed the House of Representatives this spring and moved to the Senate.
The bill, last month, then returned to the House, with lawmakers poised to consider an amendment and pass the package with bipartisan support. The legislation at first was supported by GOP lawmakers including Jordan as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Attorney General Bill Barr.
But then President Trump weighed in, urging opposition “until such time as our Country is able to determine how and why the greatest political, criminal, and subversive scandal in USA history took place!” With Trump calling essentially for further examination of the Russia probe, the bill was tabled and lawmakers moved the effort to conference committee, which is meant to resolve differences and strike a FISA deal that can pass both chambers.
FISA reform became a priority for both Republicans and Democrats following a review from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who revealed significant inaccuracies and omissions by the FBI in a FISA warrant application to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in 2016.
Some examples of reform Jordan has proposed include the appointment of an adviser to represent all U.S. persons targeted by FISA if they are a federal office holder, a political candidate, a campaign employee or volunteer, or part of a media organization — unless there is probable cause showing they have engaged in espionage, terrorism, or proliferated weapons of mass destruction.