Fox News Host Confronts Mike Johnson on FISA Change

Fox News host Maria Bartiromo confronted House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, on Sunday on his change of heart when it came to a proposed amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The House voted to re-authorize FISA in a 273-147 vote on Friday. There had been a push from Republicans, even Johnson initially, to amend Section 702 of FISA, which allows intelligence agencies to gather data on foreigners living abroad. While these agencies can’t use Section 702 to target U.S. citizens, they can collect data on Americans if they communicate with a foreign surveillance target.

The amendment would’ve prohibited warrantless searches of communications involving U.S. citizens “with exceptions for imminent threats to life or bodily harm, consent searches, or known cybersecurity threat signatures.”

However, the effort was quashed with Johnson withdrawing his support for it. Earlier this week, Johnson said after a confidential briefing he got a “different perspective” on Section 702. FISA was later passed without the amendment.

While appearing on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo, Johnson defended his decision to support FISA without the Republican-led amendment.

“Speaker you said that President [Donald] Trump is with you 100 percent, is he also with you on FISA?” Bartiromo asked. “Can you tell us what changed your mind in terms of an amendment where you need a warrant to spy on Americans?”

Johnson said he and Trump, the presumed GOP 2024 presidential nominee, “agree on the necessity of the uses of FISA.”

“Remember that’s how we kill terrorists. That’s how we stop terrorist plots on U.S. soil. That’s why we haven’t had another 9/11 since that terrible tragedy,” Johnson said about the bill that was created after Al-Qaeda attacked the United States in 2001.

Former President Donald Trump listens as House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, speaks during a press conference at Mar-a-Lago on Friday in Palm Beach, Florida. Fox News host Maria Bartiromo confronted Johnson on Sunday…

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The speaker also pointed out that Trump, who said to “kill” FISA earlier this week in Truth Social post, re-authorized it in 2018 for another six years.

“What we did was we changed the bill to fit [Trump’s] requirements and ours,” Johnson said, adding that FISA will now expire in the middle of the next administration. The speaker agreed on Thursday to change the re-authorization period from the proposed five years to two years.

Johnson gave the following scenario on Sunday to explain his rationale for opposing the amendment.

“If we’re surveilling a terrorist in the Middle East and the terrorist sends an email to a guy named John Smith in any town in the U.S.A. and the email says that components will be delivered to your house this afternoon for further assembly and delivery to the high school stadium during the game, I think every American would want the analyst who saw that email from that foreign terrorist to do a query of the other communications between those two persons,” he said.

The speaker added: “That is not unlawful and that must continue. If that analyst had to get a warrant before that, it would add a huge time delay. The courts are not set up to be able to handle all that volume and Americans may die.”

Johnson has been in the hot seat recently, with Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, introducing a motion to vacate him as House speaker. Greene has criticized the $1.2 trillion government spending bill that Johnson helped pass while the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border is still an issue and additional funding for Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia, which he plans to soon take up.

However, Johnson told Bartiromo on Sunday that Trump’s “100 percent with me,” adding that Greene’s motion to vacate is “a distraction.”

Johnson met with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate on Friday for a joint appearance. The former president said of Johnson during the press conference: “He’s doing a really good job under very tough circumstances and I appreciate that he came to Mar-a-Lago.”