Speaker ‘Lost All His Principles’ on FISA Warrant Requirement: Sen. Rand Paul

The Kentucky lawmaker said Rep. Mike Johnson has ‘completely changed … on the idea that we shouldn’t spy on Americans without a warrant.’

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on April 14 criticized House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) for his backing of a reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Section 702 warrantless surveillance authority.

Mr. Paul said in a Fox News interview that Mr. Johnson was “incredibly wrong” about the spying program, adding that he believes “Americans shouldn’t be spied on by their own government.”

“He broke the tie. He voted with the Democrats. Here we have the leader of the Republicans in the House voting with the Democrats against a warrant requirement,” the Kentucky senator told the news outlet.

Mr. Paul said that he sees no difference between Mr. Johnson and the Democrats being in charge. He also raised concerns over this year’s deficit.

“The debt, the deficit this year will be $1.5 to $2 trillion, and that’s Mike Johnson’s bill, he put it forward, he supported it with a minority of Republicans, with the majority of Democrats. This is not using the power of the purse, this is abdicating the power of the purse,” he said.

Mr. Paul thinks that Mr. Johnson “was seen as a conservative before he came to the speakership” but now he has “completely changed and lost all his principles on the idea that we shouldn’t spy on Americans without a warrant.”

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“Johnson hasn’t held his ground. He has power. He has a majority. Use the power of the purse, Speaker Johnson. Do something to make us think you are different than the Democrats, but so far, I don’t see a lot of difference,” the senator said.

On the U.S. aid package for Israel, Mr. Paul urged Mr. Johnson to “stick by his guns” and make Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) consider an aid package that is “paid for.”

“What I would say to Speaker Johnson is ‘Hold your ground. Show some cojones. Show some intestinal fortitude, for goodness sake. You’ve already passed aid to Israel. Tell Chuck Schumer, when he’s ready to take it up, take it up, and it’s going to be paid for,’” he added.

The House on April 12 passed a revised version of a bill to reauthorize Section 702 for two years by a vote of 273–147. The bill does not include a warrant requirement supported by conservatives and progressives alike. A push to include this as an amendment was defeated in a rare tied vote.

Section 702 authorizes intelligence agencies to conduct warrantless surveillance of foreigners, but it also captures information on Americans with whom the foreign target communicates. This has drawn civil liberty concerns from both sides of the aisle, especially after revelations of expansive misuse by the FBI. The power expires on April 19.

That final passage came after an amendment by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) to require a warrant to query Americans’ communications and other data failed in a rare tie vote. Mr. Johnson, who, as speaker, doesn’t always vote, cast the decisive vote that killed the proposal, prompting outrage and condemnation from some conservatives.

Johnson Cites Terrorism Threat

Mr. Johnson has said that a warrant requirement is “not helpful” and insisted that Section 702 is an important tool that has stopped terrorist attacks like 9/11.

“Remember, that’s how we killed terrorists. That’s how we stopped terrorist plots on U.S. soil,” he told Fox News on April 14. “That’s why we haven’t had another 9/11 since that terrible tragedy.”

Mr. Johnson said that former President Donald Trump is “100 percent with me,” and that both of them “agree on the necessity of the uses of FISA.”

But just days before the House passage of the reauthorization, President Trump wrote on his Truth Social account urging Congress to “kill FISA” and claiming that it was “illegally used” against him and many others.

Joseph Lord contributed to this report.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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