Feb 14, 2024

Freedom Caucus Republicans Demand FISA Reforms Transcript

Freedom Caucus Republicans Demand FISA Reforms Transcript
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Members of the House Freedom Caucus hold a press briefing to discuss their issues with the FISA reauthorization. Read the transcript here.

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Bob Good (00:13):

Thank you for being here today for this important press conference addressing a critical issue that’s facing the House. We’re privileged here in this country to live in a country where the Constitution, our founding document, our highest law of the land places a limit on government, particularly the federal government and protects our citizens. Our Constitution tells the government what it can and cannot do. Our Bill of Rights, those first 10 amendments, were put in place to further protect the citizens of the United States, to protect the rights that are given to us by God, but thankfully enshrined to us in our Constitution. But every day in America, you’ll often hear someone joke about the government spying on us. But sadly, that is true. That’s true in our country today. Current law allows the US government to collect data on you. It’s Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, but House Republicans under the leadership of Speaker Johnson are on the verge of reauthorizing FISA.

This is the same law that the FBI used and abused, mind you, to spy on President Trump’s campaign, providing the impetus for the shameless, false, ridiculous Russian collusion scandal. To prevent such a tragedy from happening to other Americans, conservatives have worked in good faith throughout the reauthorization process to protect American’s Fourth Amendment rights from deep state agencies like the FBI and the NSA.

Unfortunately, the House Intelligence Committee and the DC swamp are working overtime to make sure that FISA is reauthorized in a secret way, as secretly as possible, and putting the constitutional rights of millions of Americans instead of upfront, on the back burner. During the larger debate, you’ll hear false narratives about this bill supposedly restricting law enforcement from doing their job and hampering our ability to keep the country safe. And those claims frankly are false.

Simply put, anonymous bureaucrats have abused this tool that was intended for foreign surveillance of threats to spy on American citizens, but Conservatives are fighting for strict reforms to this law. FISA was reauthorized in 2018. Since then, the world has changed from both a national security standpoint and a technologically advanced standpoint that has resulted in more of your data being in the hands of the tech companies. We need to find that balance between keeping the nation safe while protecting you from big government and prominently has to be the rights of US citizens, the free constitutional freedoms that are protected to us by this country.

The judiciary bill was overwhelmingly approved on a bipartisan basis. It turns out Democrats don’t want to be spied on by their government either. At the end of the day, we’ve got to make sure that our government can’t keep spying on its citizens without a warrant, that we can’t keep buying data that would otherwise require a warrant, that the federal government cannot expand the spying to cover local private Wi-Fi hotspots, and that we can’t allow the government, this Congress to allow more ways for the federal government to spy on us.

So I’ve got a distinguished number of my colleagues here, and I particularly want to recognize Chairman Biggs, Mr. Davidson, Mr. Perry, Mr. Roy, Mr. Gaetz who’ve been front and center on this issue. You’re going to hear from all of them today. And first up now is Andy Biggs from Arizona.

Andy Biggs (03:49):

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for your interest in being here today. I want to start at a position of an agency called the US Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. Now, I bring that up because our friends in the Intelligence Committee act like they have never heard of this. They don’t know who this board is. This board that actually was created by statute and looks at the civil rights and how they’re protected by what? By the agencies that spy and the FISA accord.

What’s interesting about it is in the base bill that was released yesterday, one of the reports on the new commission, you look at FISA reform. Oddly enough, it’s the US Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. They are there. Now, why do I bring it up? Because as Chairman Good just said, the narrative from some on the other side is if you have warrants, if you require a warrant for a query, you will kill law enforcement and you will be responsible for dastardly deeds.

Now, let me tell you, they issued a report. I advise you to go look at their report for 2023. It’s on the internet. It’s available even to the intelligence community. They won’t look at it. They don’t like that. But let me tell you what they do say. Let me tell you what the chair Sharon Bradford Franklin said, and when I mentioned this to some of my intelligence committee counterparts say, “We’ve never heard of her. We’ve never heard of that board.”

But here’s what she said. “The question is this, if a warrant requirement only applies to content but not metadata, it includes exceptions for consent searches, defensive cyber queries, and a robust emergency provision to, for example, allow the government to find American hostages with such a warrant via defacto ban on the use of 702.” Answer, I strongly disagree that a requirement for FISC approval of US person queries would amount to a de facto ban.

And what’s a FISC approval? It’s a court order. If you go to a Title III court, it is a warrant. That is what we’re asking for. She goes on to say, “As noted in my separate statement, requiring FISC review of US person query terms is necessary to protect American’s privacy rights and, in my view, would neither cause an end to US person queries nor undermine the overall efficacy of section 702 and protect the US national security.” And she goes on to say, “Especially with those exceptions that you list there.”

Now, why do I bring up the exceptions? Because we’re asking for a warrant and the base bill, you don’t have to have a warrant. We’re asking for that. We want an amendment. We want a rational amendment process that allows us to argue for some of these things. And when we ask for a warrant, we provide exceptions, the same exceptions that follow the cannon of case law under the Fourth Amendment cases.

But even more compelling is where all these blue stickers are, that’s where you have exceptions in the other areas of the base bill that are exactly like the exceptions that we have in our warrant amendment. The Intelligence Committee said, “Okay, we’ll accept that. We’ll accept those exceptions for that stuff, but we don’t want a warrant, even if it has those exceptions.” That’s unreasonable. It’s irrational.

Now, why do we need to do what we need to do? And I’ll go quickly because I know there’s a lot of people here want to talk. Because we’re talking, if you look at this, this is the FISC report from April of 2022. It’s the last one I’ve seen. We have trouble getting data from our friends sometimes, but here’s what you need to know.

They were doing queries. They regularly queried unminimized FISA information using identifiers of individuals listed in local police homicide reports. We said, “Well, maybe they’re looking at the perpetrator or the alleged perpetrator.” No, they were including victims, next of kin, witnesses. And as this court said, “There was no rational reason to believe that they find either foreign intelligence or evidence of crime.”

Then you keep on going. They did the same thing with people arrested in the riots in the summer of 2020. They did the same thing with 656 queries with another group of people where they ran these queries to check for derogatory information without any basis to believe that they would find anything related to foreign intelligence or crime. They did this without warrants. What will a warrant do? What a warrant does, it protects the civil rights, the Bill of Rights, the individual rights of American citizens.

They did, and I won’t keep going because I’ve got a whole list of these things, but one of the most egregious, one of the most entertaining yet egregious. Well, there’s a bunch of them. I mean, they’re looking at ex-lovers, new boyfriends of their ex-lovers. They’re running those queries. But here’s the deal. 19,000 people donated to a political campaign. We don’t know whose campaign. They’ve never disclosed that to us. They did a batch query on all 19,000 donors.

What would’ve prevented that? A warrant. Would that have solved any potential foreign intelligence problem or led to criminal investigation? Answer, no. Who found that? Not Andy Biggs. None of these folks up here. That was found by the FISC court. So as we go forward, I’m requesting that the speaker take his base bill, the leadership base bill, and allow us to have a rational amendment process where we can do things like ask for warrants, see if our colleagues want to have warrants. Let’s also stop the purchase of the information that’s being scraped off everywhere and compiled in private databases that they want to use. How about let’s permanently put a spike in the abouts collection section, which hasn’t been around since 2017, but for some reason the intelligence community says, “Well, we might want to start it back up.” How about let’s get some more oversight? Let’s have members of Congress be able to monitor more closely what goes on in the FISC court and their proceedings.

That’s what needs to be done if we’re going to protect the rights of American citizens. I’m calling on the speaker to make that process go, and I’m hoping that he’ll do it. And I thank you for being here, and this is such an important issue. That’s why you see us up here. That’s why we’re talking today. And now I turn, I yield over to my friend from Ohio who’s done incredible work on this issue, Mr. Warren Davidson.

Warren Davidson (10:47):

Thanks, Andy. Thank you guys for your attendance here today and your coverage. Freedom surrendered is rarely reclaimed and it’s tough to do. People have worked for a decade to fix this law that,

Warren Davidson (11:00):

When it was launched, Americans were cautioned, it’s going to be abused, and sure enough it has been abused. To this date, no one’s really been held accountable for that abuse. And this week, we came into this week with an effort to try to follow what we fought for since we took the majority, which is a regular order process, regular order for reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, we’d use the Committee of Jurisdiction, the Judiciary Committee, and use that as the base text bill, and then it would make an order amendments that are germane. But last week we got word that there was an effort to go with the Intel Bill or some other product, and why is that important? Well, that’s not the regular order and it’s also completely at odds.

Let’s understand here, the coalition on this reform effort is not your traditional fight that you guys are used to covering where it’s Republicans versus Democrats. It is essentially conservative members like myself, Andy Biggs and Thomas Massey, who are our co-sponsors on this bill in the Judiciary Committee, who are our other co-sponsors? Pramila Jayapal, [inaudible 00:12:09], Jerry Nadler. So you have a left and right coalition against the center that wants to keep spying on American citizens. Make no mistake, that’s the plan this week, if the Intel Committee gets their way, they will continue spying without a warrant, they will keep buying your data so that they don’t have to get a warrant. They will spy on your Wi-Fi hotspots, you go to McDonald’s or Starbucks, they’re not looking for foreigners, they’re looking for you. They will add new ways to do more spying. They’ll sprinkle in a little bit of reform and they will claim to have reformed FISA. And if you expand it, I can say you will have reformed it, that’s not the reform that we promised the American people.

That’s not the reform that the people expect. They expect that the Fourth Amendment means what it says, that the United States citizen has a reasonable expectation of privacy. It’s not secrecy. It can be found out there’s a process, due process says you get a warrant. That’s what the Judiciary bill requires, it requires a warrant. And it says that you can’t bypass the obligation to get a warrant by just buying the data and pretending that you complied with the law. It shuts that off, the Judiciary Bill shuts that off. The Judiciary Bill doesn’t allow extra ways to do more spying, whether it’s Wi-Fi hotspots or new words added to it. Frankly, it provides meaningful accountability and narrows the scope of the ways the government can spy on you. I say again, freedom Surrendered is rarely reclaimed, we have that opportunity this week. We need our speaker and our Rules Committee to do the right thing.

Now, it’s not going to be perfect because the base text has already been published. We should be using the Judiciary Bill as the base text, but at this point, as weak as the base text is, it can be made right if we have all the relevant questions asked. And those are, do you need a warrant? Can the government buy data that they would otherwise have to get a warrant for? Are we going to tolerate expanding this or are we going to do what the Constitution obligates us to do and protect the privacy rights of our constituents, the citizens of this great country? I hope we do the right thing. That’s the only way this bill should pass, and I urge all of our colleagues to do just that. I’d like to turn this over to Scott Perry, my colleague from Pennsylvania who’s experienced the flaws of this system firsthand.

Scott Perry (14:43):

Well, thanks for being here, everybody. I characterize it pretty simply, it’s spying and lying. Spying and lying, that’s what our government, this federal government has been doing for a long time and it’s come front and center to the American people in astounding and breathtaking horror over the last seven or eight years. It is been going on a lot longer than that, but the American people are really aware of it now and many of us, probably all of us and all of my colleagues on at least my side of the aisle, our side of the aisle, when they ran and said to their constituents or their hopeful constituents, “If you elect us, we’re going to stop this. We’re going to end this. We’re going to stick up for your constitutional rights.” Ladies and gentlemen, there’s just a few things that we have to do when we take the oath, uphold and defend the Constitution. And in the Constitution is enshrined the right to privacy. And the Fourth Amendment, it’s right there.

Yet in this chamber, in these halls, we have members, elected members instead of upholding their oath to defend the Constitution, actively trying to subvert the Constitution, spying and lying. My good friend, Warren was too kind, all it said, almost no accountability. Almost no accountability. Tell me where there’s been any accountability? The American people demand it, and yet we stand on the precipice after all of this, after watching a president from the party that’s now in control in the house of… The majority party in this body, the President of the United States was spied on and then impeached based on falsified information, I don’t know how more breathtaking it can be. And yet, not only are some of my colleagues on my side of the aisle and some on the other side of the aisle actually trying to just continue this, they’re trying to add to it. Ladies and gentlemen, it is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, foreign intelligence.

Not one of these members has a problem with spying on foreign actors that are going to take some malicious action toward the United States of America or our citizens. Not one of us has a problem with that. But when it comes to the rights of American citizens, of Americans, we have a huge problem with that. And if they can’t abide getting a warrant and probable cause to go after American citizens, quite honestly, it shouldn’t be serving in this body at all. And I will tell you this, from my standpoint, unless there’s significant reform, and I mean significant reform, real reform, not just changing the deck chairs on the sinking ship, significant reform is protecting Americans rights, then you can count on me for a no vote.

And let me just close with this, you’re going to hear all kinds of stories. Well, the border’s wide open. Aren’t you concerned about the millions of people coming into the country of which there are probably terrorists and gangs and so on and so forth that this might help us catch? Once again, the government has created the problem, the American people aren’t the ones to be punished for the solution. We can fix that problem too. We can fix that problem too without taking away American citizens’ rights, it is our number one duty. It is our number one duty to stand in support of the Constitution and the rights of every American citizen that are enshrined in that document. I yield the balance to representative Burchett, I think from Tennessee.

Tim Burchett (18:11):

Thank you Mr. Chairman for allowing me to be here. Thank you all for being here. Restricting the government’s ability to interfere in America’s personal business has always been a core value in this country. Our founding fathers knew the importance of that and that when they wrote the Constitution. I saw how easy this could be, you all are in the media, [inaudible 00:18:33], you ought to have a… This should affect you great. This has an incredibly chilling effect on what we’re about as a nation and what they can do. This is how simple it is, somebody’s mowing your yard, somebody’s working on your house, somebody in the FBI or somebody wants to take a look at you, an American citizen, and maybe the person that’s working on your house is not an American citizen. They pick up their cell phone, they trace it, they backdoor it into your personal cell phone. That’s how easy this thing occurs.

As it is written, section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act doesn’t do enough to protect America’s privacy in addition to making some serious reforms, I believe any reauthorization of Section 702 needs to be done the right way with honest debate and consideration out in the open. How ironic is it that we’re dealing with something that is being written in the shadows of Congress and it jeopardizes America’s privacy? We need to make sure whatever decision we make is the decision that’s in the best interest of Americans. Before my daddy died, I can remember one night elections weren’t going so well, Daddy was a World War II veteran, he fought and he killed people for this country. And daddy said the blessing, and I’ll never forget the blessing that he asked and he said, “Lord, please don’t let us lose our country, amen.” Folks, this pushes us so far over this cliff that we could lose our country. We need to fight for it. You and the press need to be aware of this. You need to fight for it. I turn it over to my good friend, representative Moore.

Barry Moore (20:10):

Thank you, Mr. Burchett. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As I tour the district, the number one concern, or least one of the top concerns was the weaponization of government against American citizens. And so as we start addressing these FISA issues, this has got to be a priority. And the Fourth Amendment’s clear, Americans are protected from unreasonable searches and seizes without a warrant. But the FBI has used FISA’s 702, which is met for gathering intel on foreign nationals, 100s of 1000s of times to spy on American citizens without a warrant. Instead of focusing outwardly on America’s enemies, they’re focusing inwardly on the American people. In 2021 alone the FBI used FISA’s 702 300,000 times to spy on American citizens, including Biden’s political opponents. In 2020, the Department of Justice submitted warrants they used to spy on Trump’s campaign lacked probable cause. Y’all remember how all that started, right?

Clapper briefed Obama and the White House with Biden, then the VP and Loretta Lynch sitting in the room and said, Hey, just so you guys know, heads up the DNC and the Clinton camp are working on this Russian collusion there.” Comey leaves the room and within a few short hours opened an investigation in which he began to spy on the Trump campaign, with general Clinton and the rest. The abuse of power between the FBI and how they use that against political opponents. And yet that same FBI who offered Christopher Steele a million dollars to verify anything in the dossier, turned around and included three million to scrub the Hunter Biden laptop story in the following election. Why would we as Congress authorize an NDAA which attaches its FISA reauthorization to spy on American citizens in an election year?

Speaker 1 (22:00):

Here, certainly with an embattled political campaign going on from both sides. And we know they spied on Trump. So it just does not make sense. I think our job up here, most of us know, is to protect your liberty, folks. This was bipartisan out of the judiciary. When we brought this bill out, both sides saw the danger that we’re facing as American citizens. Our job is to protect your liberty. We got to hold the line. And with that, I’d like to turn it over to Representative Norman.

Ralph Norman (22:28):

Folks, this country’s in trouble. We are in trouble. This isn’t a Democrat issue. It’s not a Republican issue. It’s an American issue. When you keep hearing that, these things leak out. What the Intel Committee is doing, it’s going to be done in private. That’s not going to happen with this group standing behind me. The Rules committee is going to examine it. We’re going to examine every word, and at the end of the day, one of the cornerstones, we’re going to have a warrant issued if you have information that you want on the American people. Most Americans were horrified when months ago they saw a Chinese balloon go unfettered all over this country. And was it shot down? No. Not when it should have been. It was shot down in salt water off Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where the salt water, they were unable to decipher what they had, what they were spying on.

But now it’s gotten to the point, we’ve got agencies within this government that are spying on our own citizens. And you hear the numbers, 300,000. What about the ones we don’t know about? It could be you, ladies and gentlemen, that they’re spying on. The government has gotten way out of control under this administration. And what this group behind is going to do is make sure that we parse every sentence, every word, and let you, the media, hopefully report it, because this is an infringement on your rights. This fourth amendment cannot be, as well as all of the other elements in the Constitution, cannot be trampled on. This administration is doing that. That’s what has to be stopped. And now more than ever, we have got to not continue to major in the minor. We can do these worthless resolutions. This is something we can sink our teeth in. We can protect the liberty, the rights of Americans. If we don’t, then we lose the one thing that we value the most, our freedom. I Now call on… Okay, Matt Gaetz.

Matt Gaetz (24:38):

I can’t imagine that when a prior Congress passed the Patriot Act that they expected that its provisions would be used against Patriots or even BLM riders for that matter. That’s what’s so interesting about this issue. We’ve seen these authorities abused against the right, the left, the middle, the rural, the urban, certainly people all over this country. And don’t take my word for it. When the Inspector General for the Department of Justice, appointed by President Obama, did an analysis of the utilization of these FISA authorities, they found that our intelligence community had violated the law and the regulations 278,000 times. They were breaking the law 38 times an hour for the period that was being reviewed.

I don’t think it makes us unreasonable to suggest that if there’s a law being violated 38 times every hour, that it should not just be expanded without some sort of curtailment or enforcement when those violations do occur. And that’s why we want a warrant, because it creates a process by which our constitutional norms can apply to something that has broken bad. And it is helpful that we have a real U-shaped coalition here where it’s folks on the populist right aligned with those on the populist left. And we are fighting against the establishment of both parties, who seem all too willing to do whatever the national security state wants of them. So our plea to Speaker Johnson is not to just continue to punt on FISA.

That’s what we did previously, and it’s unacceptable. It’s no fun watching a team whose best play is the punt. That’s what we did previously and we shouldn’t do that again. And if we’re going to make changes to FISA, rather than expanding the authorities, as Chairman Turner and someone on the Intelligence Committee want to do, so that they can be weaponized against anybody with just access to wifi at a Starbucks or McDonald’s, they should be curtailed. And if they are not curtailed, if there’s not a willingness in the Senate to curtail these authorities, then we should allow them to expire, as is contemplated originally in the Patriot Act. And I would now turn the mic over to my colleague, representative [inaudible 00:26:54]

Eric Burlison (26:58):

I think the question before us is pretty simple. Who do you stand with? Who do you trust more? The American people or the deep state? And if you ask the American people, especially in my district, they do not trust this place. They don’t trust what the FBI has been doing. They don’t appreciate the actions towards their free speech or towards their religious liberty. Whenever you hear examples of the FBI investigating the Catholic Church, the American people should start having questions. You, the press, should have questions. Which is why this FISA reauthorization went through the proper process. It went through the judiciary committee, it went through the amendment process in that committee, and it had all eyes on it, and it went through a vetting process.

The question is to those members on the intelligence community, what are you so afraid of in the reforms? What are you so afraid of getting a warrant and justifying your actions before you, as was mentioned, continue to abuse the law every two seconds, and violate someone’s rights every two seconds. Look, I wish that this town and that the resources of this town dedicated enough time and attention to fix the border as they do to reauthorize FISA, or to take down a good FISA bill. So we’re here to make sure that the American people know exactly where we stand, and we want the American people to pay attention and ask themselves, “Is my elected official, are they with the deep state or they with me?” And with that, I will turn this over to representative Clyde.

Andrew Clyde (28:58):

Thank you. Nothing encapsulates the ongoing foreign intelligence surveillance act fight better than Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” For years, the surveillance state has dangerously weaponized Section 702 of FISA as a vehicle to illegally spy on Americans. That’s you. That’s me. That’s all our constituents. It’s time for Congress to take a stand against his egregious, unconstitutional abuse by ending the warrantless mass surveillance of the American people. And that’s exactly what we’re fighting for this week. After all, the Fourth Amendment is not a suggestion. It’s not a recommendation. It’s not a proposal. It is the foundational law of the land. It is a bedrock Constitutional right.

Yet, as expected, the swamp is siding with big government instead of the American people as they work to green light more 702 abuse and ensure the FISA reauthorization is done in a secretive manner. Could you imagine that? Could you imagine Congress debating in secret? No. Congress should never debate in secret. What Congress does should always be open to the American people, those who we represent. My conservative colleagues and I won’t stand for this injustice because our liberties are on the line. And this week we will see who here in Washington truly protects those liberties. Because each member faces a simple choice. Will they allow illegal warrantless surveillance of the American people to continue or will they safeguard their constituents Fourth Amendment freedoms? I choose to safeguard freedom and liberty. And I urge members to join us in this fight to end FISA abuse. Remember what Benjamin Franklin said. “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Thank you. And now I’d like to turn it over to my friend and our chairman. Bob Good.

Bob Good (31:11):

Thank you to my colleagues. As was noted by Mr. Burchett a few moments ago, there was a time, not very long ago, the media would have been up in arms at this abuse of our liberties, our freedoms, our constitutional protections. The media would have been leading the way in holding this kind of abuse of power accountable. And it should happen today. It should happen today. You should not tolerate this. Maybe, as we’ve seen the weaponization of the government like never before in these last three years. Maybe you don’t like the January 6th protestors. Maybe you don’t like pro-life protestors.

Maybe you don’t like Christians in Richmond, Virginia who are practicing their faith. Maybe you don’t like parents who show up at school board meetings, but it will be you in the future if this kind of thing continues. We live in America. We don’t live in a police state yet, but reauthorizing FISA without the appropriate reforms moves us one step closer to a police state. So with that, we’ll take a few questions. I’d ask Chairman Biggs and Congressman Davidson to lead the answers for our questions as they’ve led on this bill.

Speaker 2 (32:22):

Yes. Eric Rosales with EWT and the Global Catholic Network. You touched a little bit on the issue of the Catholic Church and how the FBI targeted the Catholic Church, and now we’re discovering that documents have been not given of this memo and they’ve been deleted. Can we get your reaction on that?

Speaker 3 (32:43):

So we have asked for those documents and we’ve not received them. They apparently have been deleted or lost, deliberately, perhaps, but more than just the Richmond office. People need to understand that didn’t just originate and stay in the Richmond office.

Speaker 4 (33:00):

… it went out and was broadcast to a broader net, and that’s part of the problem. It’s, in some ways, tangential to 702, but it also gets at the heart of the weaponization that we’ve seen with the FBI. I don’t know that we’d categorize that as a 702 violation, but we would categorize it as an abuse of the police power that has been entrusted in the FBI. And we’re not certain yet even what the disciplinary action was on those who abused the rights of Catholic individuals who were considered, because they liked the Latin mass-

Speaker 7 (33:36):

Celebrate the Latin mass.

Speaker 4 (33:37):

… they were somehow considered to be prone to being domestic terrorists. And so we need more information on that. We continue to look for that information in the two committees, which is judiciary and oversight. Back here.

Speaker 5 (33:49):

Just a quick question. Have you been able to get an understanding from leadership whether you are going to be able to offer the amendment on the warrant and the data brokers, or are you getting the sense that it’s all going to be shut out of the debate? What are you expecting basically?

Speaker 8 (34:07):

Well, we’re expecting to be able to ask all the relevant questions, and those are certainly the relevant questions. What we know is many of our colleagues have pressured leadership to not ask those questions. They wanted just the Intel Bill, which would’ve avoided that. And they’ve worked to try to prevent the Rules Committee from even having the proper text. I can tell you that people were reaching out to my office to try to influence us to change the Fourth Amendment’s not for sale provisions. And so what we’ve done is try to make it clear to take away some of the false narratives that they’ve tried to spin up even in the law enforcement community around the country. They’re trying to convince sheriffs that somehow this limits their ability to do their jobs. And that’s not true.

So there are a lot of lies, as people said, that are being spun frankly by the intel community. And I always say, go to the source. And in this case, do you trust the source? I would encourage you not to trust the source if it’s coming out of the intelligence community with respect to their vested interest in continuing to spy on the American citizens.

Speaker 4 (35:09):

I just want to add one quick thing to that too. When you see misdirection or misinformation that comes out, and it’s coming from the other side, what you know is they’re experts at misinformation and misdirection. That’s what they do for a living part. And so that’s what’s going on here. But we are demanding of the Speaker a normal process as Mr. Davidson talked about and so many talked about. You’re not using the judiciary bill, which had jurisdiction. So you’ve got a leadership bill. Ostensibly, these are the things that were agreed to, but there’s a whole bunch of stuff that wasn’t agreed to. We need to be able to go forward with an amendment process.

Speaker 5 (35:52):

And if you don’t have an amendment process, would you vote-

Speaker 9 (35:55):

I’m sorry. We’re going to go to somebody else, right here.

Courtney (35:57):

All right. Thank you. I’m Courtney from Law 360. So just to verify, in your ideal world, would this base text mirror what the House Judiciary Committee put out? And also, I know there was some chatter about a potential secret session. Any update on that?

Speaker 4 (36:10):

So, A, in my ideal world, we wouldn’t have had this little base text here. We would’ve used the Judiciary Bill. That’s the committee that had jurisdiction. We would’ve taken it to the floor. If the Intel Committee wanted to strip stuff out or add stuff, they should have been allowed to do that. I’m all for this give and take of the regular process, but we didn’t get that. We got this base bill and now we need to have the process. Now, your question on what they’re calling an executive session, that would be one of the worst things I can imagine happening. Closing up to the public and having a debate on a secret bill on a secret law that just would allow to perpetuate spying on American citizens, so I oppose that. I’m understanding that it hasn’t been completely taken off the table. I’m hoping that that thing goes the way of the Dodo pretty quickly.

Speaker 9 (37:08):

One more.

Speaker 6 (37:09):

On another legislative topic, the Senate just passed the Foreign Aid Bill. McConnell has encouraged the House GOP to just put it on the floor and work its magic. If the Speaker were to do that, do you think his speakership would be at risk?

Speaker 9 (37:20):

Any question on FISA? One more question. Yes, ma’am.

Speaker 6 (37:23):

Will you answer that [inaudible 00:37:25] at this point?

Speaker 9 (37:25):

We’re not talking about that right now. Yes, ma’am.

Speaker 10 (37:26):

Are you guys at this point voting for the rule or is that dependent on what amendments get offered and allowed in this tomorrow?

Speaker 9 (37:34):

We would hope to be able to support the rule and we’ve given an agreement to that effect, if the spirit in the letter of what the agreement was is honored, but we reserve the right to do whatever it takes to beat this, if it needs to be.

Speaker 6 (37:50):

Will you answer on Senate?

Speaker 9 (37:52):

Anything you want to add?

Speaker 8 (37:54):

No, I think Chairman Good said that right, is that we don’t know the final product yet. And what we had hoped is the final product was subject to amendment. That’s what one of the things we fought for, not necessarily a guaranteed outcome. But I think it’s important for the American people, certainly not in a secret session where their member of Congress can say, “Oh, I voted this way or that way,” but it’s not known how they really voted. It’s going to be a public vote and recorded. And I think that the people of this country deserve to know not just where their member of Congress stands, but where every member of Congress stands. And I think it could turn out to be a great thing that we ask, should you get a warrant? I want to know that answer almost as much as I want the warrant requirement.

Should you be able to work your way around getting a warrant requirement with the Fourth Amendment’s not for sale, buying data that you would otherwise have to get a warrant for? I want to know, do you want to bypass that or not? Should you expand the FISA program to have even less accountability and more spying on American citizens? And there are going to be several amendments potentially offered that way. I don’t know what’ll be made in order, but I look forward to answering those questions with recorded votes. And why? Because I hope the American people send the right reinforcements here in this election cycle. People that are serious about restoring a government small enough to fit in the constitution.

Speaker 11 (39:14):

I’ll say, as far as rules, we’re taking it up tomorrow and we’re meeting today at 4:00, then we’ll take it up tomorrow at 2:00. And as has been said, we’re going to examine every part of this and we’re going to look at every amendment and let y’all know what’s in it and what’s not in it. That’s our duty, that’s our obligation, and I think you’ll see it now at the Rules Committee.

Speaker 9 (39:35):

All right. We’re not going to take any more questions, but I will just say on the supplemental, we knew this would happen. We knew the Senate would send it back without the pretend border security. What we rejected last week, it was a win for the American people, was a Ukraine support bill, a Ukraine funding bill combined with an amnesty bill masquerading as a border of security bill, which it never was. And you’ve got even so-called conservative media criticizing Republicans now and saying, ” Hey, you rejected the border of security.” There was never any border of security in the bill that fell apart last week.

As it relates to this supplemental, we shouldn’t borrow $100 billion from our kids and our grandkids to send it overseas. It’s got Hamas support in it, essentially, with money going to Gaza, which we know would be controlled by Hamas. Israel support, which has near unanimous support among Republicans, shouldn’t be held hostage for these other concerns that have nothing to do with Israel. What Speaker Johnson should do is one of two things. Either send back an Israel support bill paid for by cutting UNWRA, UN funding, climate credits, IRS expansion, the commerce slush fund. There’s lots of low-hanging fruit combined with border security, or he ought to do that and then we ought to also add border security to the spending battles ahead. But we’re at a time here and then someone else is coming in behind us for this room, so thank you very much. Thanks to my colleagues.

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