President Trump briefly took aim Thursday at a key surveillance program despite his administration's official support for renewing it, suggesting the program was used to "badly surveil and abuse" his campaign based on the "phony" Trump dossier. About 90 minutes later, the president issued a follow-up that attempted to walk back his original statement.
Trump has said he will sign the bill, which would extend the program for six years. Congress wanted to be able to track and stop terrorists, and the program was created to spy on foreign citizens.
Republicans seemed undeterred by Democrats' demands, plowing ahead with planned votes on the bill and a sole amendment to it Thursday morning. That's the section of the law the House voted today to extend-it's set to expire next Friday, and the Trump administration has argued that renewing it is critical to national security.
Asked by Reuters at a conference in NY about Trump's tweets, Rob Joyce, the top White House cyber official, said there was no confusion within the Oval Office about the value of the surveillance programme and that there have been no cases of it being used improperly for political purposes. Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Trump spoke by phone between the president's two tweets, according to a senior Republican congressional aide.
Following the president's first tweet, Sen. Otherwise, Trump's broadside this morning will give political cover to the USA Rights amendment's advocates, and might even spell trouble for Section 702 entirely.
"This vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land", Trump said in his second morning tweet on the matter. "And I will do everything I can to fight to make sure that it does not pass, unless we get our reforms attached to the bill". Trump wrote on Twitter. Spying is valid to find the foreign agents among us.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump tweeted his opposition to the bill and suggested that his predecessor Barack Obama had used it to spy on him.
He was referring to an explosive and largely uncorroborated dossier that details claims about ties between Russian Federation and Trump and his aides.
The original deadline to renew the surveillance powers passed on December 31 without a debate on the floor of either house on potential reforms.
Trump and his supporters say investigators have used false information in the dossier as part of their probe, a claim the president echoed in an earlier tweet.
The Trump administration had wanted the program to be reauthorized without change, but later said it was willing to back legislation that would impose moderate restrictions on the Federal Bureau of Investigation access to Americans' communications.
"The Administration urges the House to reject this amendment and preserve the useful role FISA's Section 702 authority plays in protecting American lives", a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders read.
Trump has claimed, without evidence, that the Obama administration wiretapped him in 2016 in connection with allegations that Russian Federation interfered in the election by hacking Democratic officials.
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