As a government shutdown loomed in Congress this week, a new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act memo threatened to deepen the divide. The four-page FISA memo, released to lawmakers by the House Intelligence Committee, allegedly outlines widespread abuse in U.S. government surveillance practices.
Back in December, House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes confirmed the committee had uncovered evidence of surveillance abuse. On Thursday, acting on a motion from New York Representative Pete King, House Intel released a memo that reportedly backs-up Nunes’ claim.
Although unable to release specific details about the contents of the FISA memo, several GOP lawmakers commented on what they read. Some went so far as to liken the abuse to activities one would expect to occur in Russian intelligence agencies.
“You think about, ‘is this happening in America or is this the KGB?’ That’s how alarming it is,” Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry said. North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows was equally appalled at what he saw.
“It’s troubling. It is shocking,” said Meadows. “Part of me wishes that I didn’t read it because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much.”
After reading the memo, GOP lawmakers began calling for it to be released to the public. “It is so alarming the American people have to see this,” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan said. However, House Democrats are opposed to making it public. In fact, they didn’t want it released at all.
After learning about the memo, Sean Hannity seized the opportunity to call-out Robert Mueller. Calling the FISA abuses a “far bigger” scandal than Watergate, he essentially told special counsel that the party is over.
“I have a message tonight for the special counsel, Robert Mueller,” Hannity said in his opening monologue. “Your witch hunt is now over. Time to close the doors.” Trump supporters, including Hannity, suggested from the beginning of the Russia probe that Obama used FISA warrants to spy on the Trump campaign.
Interestingly, news of the alleged FISA abuses came just days after Republicans voted to reauthorize portions of the Act. When first passed in 2008, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi supported the bill. At the time, she said the bill does not allow “warrantless surveillance of Americans.”