On Thursday, March 12, 2020, President Donald Trump told Utah Senator Mike Lee that he does not back a surveillance bill which passed in the House.
Trump’s comments have raised speculations about the status of this bill.
A spokesman from Lee’s office confirmed the conversation and the president informed the Utah Republican that he is not in favor of the House legislation.
Lee and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul have been working diligently to stop the House bill. They even urged Trump to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. The Senators believe that it does not go far enough in its reforming of the court connected to the Freedom Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Lee attempted, but ultimately failed, to set the Senate to pass a 45-day extension of three provisions of the USA Freedom Act, which are about to expire soon. In addition, he failed to guarantee votes on amendments to the House legislation, which combines a reauthorization of the provisions with some changes in the FISA process.
Progressives and libertarian-leaning GOP senators have warned for some time that they do not believe the surveillance court has enough transparency or privacy protections for those being spied on.
Several other Republican lawmakers have joined them after the Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz discovered 17 notable inaccuracies and omissions in the warrant applications launched against Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
Trump repeatedly criticized FISA, arguing that Deep state actors were spying on his campaign.
He appeared to indicate on Thursday that he was receptive to the Senators’ argument when he tweeted on Thursday that a select few Republicans were urging him to veto the bill.
“Many Republican Senators want me to Veto the FISA Bill until we find out what led to, and happened with, the illegal attempted ’coup’ of the duly elected President of the United States, and others!” he tweeted.
Many Republican Senators want me to Veto the FISA Bill until we find out what led to, and happened with, the illegal attempted “coup” of the duly elected President of the United States, and others!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2020
Lee took advantage of the president’s tweet while giving a lengthy floor speech where he criticized the House bill.
“He still has concerns with FISA and that many senators are pointing out the flaws in the reforms package passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives this week, that many have encouraged him to veto that legislation,” Lee stated. “If the president of the United States himself has reason to be concerned about FISA, what about the rest of Americans?”
According to The Hill, that the president is interested in overhauling FISA reforms but is “carefully listening” to all Republicans concerned about the matter.
“There is a lot of interest in the significant reform that conservatives drove to completion to address the abuses of FISA against him and other innocent members of the 2016 campaign,” the official stated.
Texas Political Establishment Attempts to Derail Shelley Luther’s Campaign
The special election for Texas’ Senate District 30 is on pace to be one of the most heated races in the Lone Star State.
At a candidate forum on September 18, 2020, Shelley Luther, the Dallas salon owner who was jailed for opening her business in defiance of Governor Greg Abbott’s shutdown order, confronted outgoing State Senator Pat Fallon.
Fallon vacated his seat and is now backing a successor in State Representative Drew Springer.
“We don’t want somebody who’s going to be at odds with our Republican governor,” Fallon said September 18 at the Grayson County Republican Women’s Club.
I didn’t support some of the things that he has done about opening up. … So, he’s made some mistakes. He’s our Republican governor, the 80/20 rule … because you’re not going to get any bills passed unless the governor signs them.
“Let me make something clear. I am accountable to my fellow citizens in Senate District 30. Not our Governor,” Luther responded on September 19 on Facebook:
This is exactly what is wrong with Austin. Our politicians are more loyal to Abbott than us, even when they disagree with him.
I will work with Governor Abbott when he is fighting to protect the liberty of Texans, and I will oppose him when he pushes unilateral dictates that shut down our local businesses.
Fallon and Luther had a tense exchange, which was caught on video.
“You want me to go all in on this race?” Fallon questioned Luther. “I have been 5 percent in on this race. You want me to go all in on it, I’m welcome to.”
“This has become a straight-up fight between Abbott and the ‘Kumbaya’ Professional Political Class vs. the grassroots and people who remember what limited government and principles should look like,” opined conservative activist Mike Openshaw.
“Respectfully, being willing to be jailed for fighting over-reaching government shows principle; that counts for something, Patrick,” Openshaw continued.
Luther has recently received endorsements from conservative Collin County Judge Chris Hill and Young Conservatives of Texas. Springer, on the other hand, received an endorsement from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which asserted that Luther was going down a “far right” path.
A Republican is expected to carry the senate district, which may still require a runoff if the leading candidate does not get enough votes during the first round of the special election.
Election Day will be on September 29.
Luther is viewed as the truly conservative option and many believe she could help break the political status quo in Austin that has kept conservative legislation from ever being passed.
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