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.
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Greg Abbott Signs Executive Order Keeping Violent Criminals from Going Back on the Streets During the Wuhan Crisis
After the Wuhan Virus was confirmed in several Texas jails in the last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on March 29, 2020 that makes it more difficult for several inmates to be let out on “no-cost, personal recognizance bonds.”
Abbott tweeted, “Today I issued an Executive Order preventing [email protected] of dangerous criminals from prisons & jails. We want to prevent the spread of #COVID19 among prison staff & inmates. But, releasing dangerous criminals in the streets is not the solution. #txlege #coronavirus”
Today I issued an Executive Order preventing [email protected] of dangerous criminals from prisons & jails.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 30, 2020
Several cases of the Wuhan Virus were discovered in the Dallas County Jail and Harris County Jail last week, two of the state’s largest jails. In addition, a handful of cases were confirmed in state prisons. According to NBC DFW, the virus’ outbreak was “followed by demands to reduce the inmate populations by releasing, immediately and without bond or judicial delay, those held on misdemeanor crimes or awaiting trial on misdemeanor crimes. Some also called for non-violent felons to also be released on no-cost bonds.”
Abbott said Sunday that “releasing dangerous criminals makes the state even less safe” and issued a proclamation to prevent judges, and others, from releasing some inmates without a paid, cash bond.
In his executive order, Abbott declared that a person convicted of a crime that involved or threatened physical violence, or a person arrested for such a crime backed by probable cause, or a person with a criminal history of violent crime, cannot get out of jail on a no-cost personal recognizance bond.
With a PR bond, a defendant is released without having to post any money for his or her bond on the promise they’ll show up to their next court date.
Instead of virtue signaling and buying into the criminal justice reform movement’s desire to foment anarcho-tyranny, Abbott has held his ground by promoting public order.
A crisis like the Wuhan Virus pandemic does not need to be exacerbated by opening up the prison floodgates.
This is one case where American policymakers should use logic not emotion to craft prison policies in times of a pandemic.
Failure to do so will put the U.S. on the road to institutional failure.
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