Trump Calls for Scrapping FISA Bill Amid Renewed Warrantless Surveillance Debate

Former President Donald Trump has entered the fray over the renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), urging House Republicans to reject the bill. The legislation, titled the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act, on its way to the House floor this week for a final vote, would reauthorize warrantless surveillance of Americans. Section 702 of FISA, which provides the federal government with the power to spy on foreigners overseas, is currently scheduled to expire on April 19 and includes provisions that were used to spy on the Trump campaign.


House Intelligence Chair Mike Turner (R-OH) acknowledged the past abuses of FISA in both foreign and domestic surveillance capacities. The FBI’s securing of a warrant to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page excluded key information, undercutting the premise for the FBI’s surveillance case.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), while acknowledging Trump’s concerns regarding FISA abuses, discussed the importance of implementing reforms to prevent future violations while meeting with colleagues to approve the bill without a warrant requirement. Johnson remarked, “I look forward to talking with him about it…he’s not wrong. Of course, they abused FISA. The whole Carter Page investigation — that whole fiasco was built on false premises, the fake Russian dossier and all the other things. But these reforms would actually kill the abuses that allow President Trump’s campaign to be spied on.”

Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) signaled his intent to vote against the rule initiating the debate on the bill, remarking, “I do think that I’ll have colleagues who will join me to try to get as much as we can to protect civil liberties in the Constitution.”

The legislation would reauthorize Section 702 of FISA for five years. It includes measures to prevent political opposition research or news reports from being the basis for issuing warrants to spy on US citizens. It’s meant to allow for the targeted surveillance of only foreign persons overseas, but does allow for the surveillance of U.S. citizens who may have been communicating with them.

However, these spy powers would not apply to national politicians, as the bill includes a provision exempting members of Congress from surveillance. The bill mandates that the FBI must promptly notify and seek consent from congressional leadership before conducting any queries involving members of Congress. Amendments to the bill also include requirements for the FBI to report quarterly on the number of queries conducted on U.S. persons.

Concerns have been raised over the potential for abuse and infringement of constitutional rights by these FISA reforms by individuals such as Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY), who denounced the carve-out for members of Congress in the bill, posting the bill’s writing on X. “Congress gives itself a carve out in the reauthorization of FISA 702 warrantless spying on Americans. The bill requires the FBI to notify and seek consent from Congress before violating the privacy of Congressmen.”

Bipartisan support amongst progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans in the House has emerged in supporting a warrant requirement for the FISA renewal, with some members having stated prior that they would oppose the reauthorization if amendments ending warrantless surveillance were not included. The House Rules Committee voted on Tuesday in favor of a bipartisan amendment aimed at banning warrantless searches of U.S. person communications in the FISA 702 database.