Gaetz calls for major reforms to FISA: 'It's only as good as the people running it'

'There is no mechanism by which the system or the institution can stop corrupt people,' Gaetz says of surveillance bill.

Rep. Matt Gaetz
Rep Matt. Gaetz
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Last Updated:
May 28, 2020 - 11:18pm

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Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz on Thursday called for "major structural reforms" to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, arguing that the legislation was weaponized against President Trump and any renewal of the law needs to "change the way that system works."

Gaetz told Just the News during an interview with the John Solomon Reports podcast that legislation to renew FISA powers – again the subject of a heated reauthorization debate in Congress – has "no mechanism by which the system or the institution can stop corrupt people."

The law, first passed in 1978, lays out the process by which federal agents can go to a secretive federal intelligence court to get permission to surveil foreign powers and those suspected of working with them, including U.S. citizens. It has most recently been at the center of the FBI's Russia collusion investigation, having been used to obtain warrants against campaign adviser Carter Page. 

The House and Senate have different bills to renew FISA with changes and are trying to pick a conference committee to work out differences.

Gaetz said Democrats and Republicans are attempting to "pick a club within a club within the Congress" to work out a legislative compromise on the bill, something to which Gaetz is opposed.

"I actually think that we need to open hearings," he said. "We need to come back to Washington. We need to bring forward witnesses. We need to hear a lot more from the inspector general." 

"On these issues of intelligence, and surveillance, and civil rights, you can't really map it out by Republicans versus Democrats. We have Republicans and Democrats on really both sides of issue," he said. 

"It really is more about whether or not someone believes in a stronger government control or more individual liberty," he added.

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