Wray rebuts Trump order to ‘kill FISA’: ‘It’s indispensable in keeping Americans safe’

FBI Director Christopher Wray implored lawmakers on Capitol Hill to expeditiously reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act before it expires next week.

“Section 702 is indispensable in keeping Americans safe from a whole barrage of fast-moving foreign threats,” Wray testified before the House Appropriations Committee at the U.S. Capitol Thursday afternoon.

“So if Congress lets 702 lapse, which it’s set to do now next week, it will massively increase the risk of missing crucial intelligence during a time of heightened national security threats across a whole multiple of fronts,” Wray said.

FISA was passed in 1978 and outlines how the U.S. government can conduct surveillance and foreign intelligence gathering. It has been amended numerous times since then, including after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when provisions were added to enhance how the FBI could collect information about U.S.-based individuals.

Approving the reauthorization has become a nightmare for the House this week after former President Donald Trump called on lawmakers on the hard Right to deny its advancement on the basis that the FBI used the authorities to spy on a campaign aide in 2020 and 2021.

“IT WAS ILLEGALLY USED AGAINST ME, AND MANY OTHERS. THEY SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN!!!” Trump wrote on Truth Social.

The matter has put Trump and Wray at odds after Trump appointed Wray to his post during his administration.

Trump posted on his social media platform Truth Social that lawmakers should “KILL FISA” in a procedural vote Wednesday, pitting a fraction of the House GOP against the majority of Republicans and Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA).

Section 702 allows the FBI to identify terrorists in the United States who are working with groups overseas, uncover foreign plots to kidnap or assassinate dissidents in the U.S., and warn critical infrastructure authorities of plots by hackers in China, Russia, and Iran, according to Wray.

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Johnson told reporters on Wednesday that he still believed the House had a path to victory despite the setback to pass the reauthorization.

“We still have time on the clock this week,” Johnson said. “We are going to try and find a way to unlock the rule and I think it’s possible.”

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