CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Live Mic: Stewart, Lee on opposite sides of surveillance reform bill

Mar 12, 2020, 3:22 PM
Chris Stewart surveillance reform...
File photo of Rep. Chris Stewart. (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
(Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — In a rare moment of bipartisan compromise, the U.S. House passed a bill Wednesday on surveillance reform. But President Donald Trump was mulling a veto Thursday.

The House approved the measure on a bipartisan majority of 278-136, with 152 Democrats and 126 Republicans supporting the surveillance reform legislation. All four Utah congressmen voted in favor.

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said it was the right thing to do before the three provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, expire on Sunday.

But Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is urging President Donald Trump to veto it.

“I’m going to use every option at my disposal to stop the House bill and to offer up amendments,” Lee told Politico. “I have given no one any reason to believe that I would be unwilling to let the clock run out.

“The House FISA deal doesn’t fix what’s wrong with FISA,” the Utah senator wrote.

In favor of surveillance reform

Stewart joined Lee Lonsberry on Live Mic to explain his support for the bill.

“If we don’t reauthorize this [bill] with these reforms, then FISA doesn’t change,” said Stewart. “It’s not a matter of doing these reforms or doing more reforms. It’s a matter of doing this or nothing. FISA is not going away.”

He said the choice is to implement the reforms or have FISA abused in the future.

“This is not a Democrat bill,” Stewart said. “This is a bill that we could not have passed if House Republicans had been in the majority.

“That’s the real irony here. We got a vast number of Republicans and Democrats to support this. This is based on mostly my legislation,” Stewart said on the show.

President Trump wants change

President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr, who reportedly backs the House bill, met with Democrats and Republicans last week. At the meeting, the president said he would not support a clean extension of the expiring provisions, according to Politico.

Mr. Trump has criticized FISA after it was used to monitor Carter Page, a former campaign adviser to the president, during the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the campaign’s contacts with Moscow.

A Justice Department inspector general report found no evidence of political bias in opening investigations into four of Mr. Trump’s campaign associates but criticized a surveillance-warrant application to wiretap Page.

“So far, I have not seen anything that would satisfy me,” Lee said Tuesday about the House version of the bill.

“I will be putting forward an amendment that says FISA shouldn’t be used on Americans, and we’ll see where that goes,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who is another FISA opponent.

 

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

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Live Mic: Stewart, Lee on opposite sides of surveillance reform bill