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Durham set to appear before House panel amid calls from GOP for federal surveillance reform

Durham testified Tuesday during a closed-door briefing before the House Intelligence Committee.

Published: June 20, 2023 11:22pm

Special Counsel John Durham, who investigated the origins of the now debunked Russia collusion probe, is set to appear before a key House panel Wednesday amid calls for reform of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The 1978 act sets out procedures for physical and electronic surveillance and the collection of foreign intelligence information. It also established a special federal court to consider issuing search warrants under the surveillance act.

Durham's 316-page final report was released in May and concluded the FBI didn't have enough evidence to open the investigation into whether the 2016 Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russia and that the agency showed "bias" in its handling of the probe.

Durham testified Tuesday about his final report, during a closed-door briefing before the House Intelligence Committee. His public testimony takes place Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee.

"It was very clear that Mr. Durham believes that there was misconduct," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner said after the briefing. "He gave us the impression that some of the [FBI] misconduct is individualized – there were bad people doing bad things. But then some of it is systemic. And some of it is where we need changes so that there's higher reviews, higher requirements for this to ever happen again." 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan told Just the News on Tuesday the Durham report shows how "biased they were at the highest levels of the FBI."

Jordan also pointed out the agency didn't validate the now-discredited Trump dirty secrets report known as the Steele dossier before the agency launched the collusion investigation.

"Not one substantive allegation was ever, ever corroborated or validated," he said. "They didn't talk to the witnesses who initially caused them to launch this."

Jordan said the FBI, as an organization, "hasn't changed" since the conclusion of the Russia probe, which "underscores why FISA has to change."

He suggested that House Republicans should "rein in" federal agencies like the Justice Department through the appropriations process, in which Congress approved money for them.

"This Congress needs to change the 702 program, relative to the FBI and to use the appropriations process to get policy language that will help with what we've called the weaponization of these agencies against the American people," Jordan said.

According to the U.S. government, the 702 program "enables the Intelligence Community to collect, analyze and appropriately share foreign intelligence information about national security threats."

It also "authorizes targeted intelligence collection of specific types of foreign intelligence information – such as information concerning international terrorism or the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction – identified by the attorney general and the director of National Intelligence."

Jordan also argued that FISA should not be re-authorized and the 702 program, in its current form, needs "dramatic changes" for the future.

Jordan said that the vast majority of the country recognizes the "never ending attack" on former President Donald Trump from 2016 to as recent as last week when he was charged with 37 federal criminal counts for allegedly mishandling classified documents after leaving office.

Jordan said he hopes the American people see how it connects to their own lives as U.S. citizens.

"If they can do this to President Trump and have this double standard, then they can do it to any one of us," he said. "It can be parents at a school board meeting, it can be pro-life Catholics, you name it." 

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