President Donald Trump's sunrise tweet casting aspersions on the domestic surveillance program his own intelligence officials have called essential set off a thunderclap of concern in Washington - and underscored the pitfalls of the President's morning television tweet-alongs.
"This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?" the president said on Twitter.
The dossier, which was compiled by a British ex-spy, alleges Trump's campaign had ties to Russian Federation.
Which surveillance program are we talking about here?
That may have been what prompted Trump's tweet claiming the program had been abused.
Not without a last-minute distraction, related to a presidential tweet, the U.S. House rode broad bipartisan backing to approval Thursday of legislation related to electronic intelligence collection.
"This morning he put out two tweets that were so undermining of what we were trying to do of the floor in terms of FISA", she said.
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Eventually, Trump called House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and they spoke for a half-hour.
Chief of staff John Kelly has tried to calm reactions from White House staffers to such incidents, telling reporters in November, after Trump provoked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, that he has instructed staffers to avoid reacting to Trump's Twitter account. "What were his issues?" said House Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker of North Carolina told Politico. "FISA is something the President should have known about long before he turned on Fox this morning".
Trump's position seemed to be in opposition to the Trump administration's position, potentially putting the reauthorization vote in doubt.
Before voting the bill today, House representatives shot down an amendment that would have forced United States law enforcement officials to at least get a warrant when searching for data on United States citizens collected in this database.
But the House rejected, on a 233-183 vote, more stringent restrictions on the Federal Bureau of Investigation that would have required it to get a warrant even when it started its search of the surveillance database when Americans might be involved. It was created to place the government's targeted surveillance of any "U.S. person" suspected of involvement with global terror organizations under Congressional and judicial oversight. Trump and Nunes have accused the Obama administration of improperly revealing the identities of members of the president's transition team.
Without congressional action, legal support for Section 702 will expire next week, although intelligence officials say it could continue through April.
Since the Snowden revelations in 2013, the public learned that Section 702 has been used unlawfully and in ways that was never intended. The law allows intelligence agencies like the NSA to collect texts and emails of foreigners overseas without a specific warrant and was due to expire next week. The House Intelligence Committee credits the authority with allowing the government to track, find and eliminate a top ISIS leader, Haji Iman, a process that unfolded over a two-year span in which the communications of Iman's close associates were collected.
The legislation, which passed 256-164 and split party lines, is the culmination of a years-long debate in Congress on the proper scope of U.S. intelligence collection - one fueled by the 2013 disclosures of classified surveillance secrets by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.