The FBI used a salacious and unverified dossier, alleging ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, to get permission through a controversial surveillance law to spy on member's of his campaign, according to some GOP lawmakers.
Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan and other GOP lawmakers believe the FBI used the dossier, written by former British spy Christopher Steele, to petition the FISA Court for warrants to monitor members of the Trump campaign.
"All the evidence points to top people at the FBI--took a Democrat financed, Clinton campaign financed dossier, dressed it up like it was legitimate intelligence... It looks like they took it to the FISA court, to get warrants to spy on people, and throughout that process they were unmasking names. That's scary stuff," Jordan said in an interview with Circa.
Fusion GPS, a private intelligence firm based in Washington D.C., hired Steele to investigate ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The firm was commissioned by the Clinton campaign to conduct opposition research on Trump. The dossier alleged, that members of the Trump campaign had engaged in serious misconduct and conspiracy with Russian officials to influence the 2016 election.
FISA or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is a law that allows U.S. intelligence agencies to conduct surveillance on communications involving foreign nationals or entities. The law is meant to help the intelligence community prevent terrorist attacks.
But, as Circa reported last year, thousand's of American's emails, phone calls, messages and imageswere captured in the collection process. That's because intelligence officials can collect data on communications Americans have had with foreign nationals under the law.
Some lawmakers like Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, and President Trump believe the law was used to spy on them-- and have accused the Obama administration of requesting information about their communications in intelligence reports, a practice known as "unmasking."
“House votes on controversial FISA ACT today.” 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?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2018
On Thursday, the House voted to extend the reauthorization of FISA for another six years. The original bill from the House Intelligence Committee contained a provision to provide more oversight for unmasking procedures, but that provision was stripped out of the bill to help House leaders gain enough support to pass the bipartisan bill.
"We asked the Speaker to take out the masking provisions, which had no place in this bill," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in remarks on the House floor shortly before the bill was passed.
She added that Rep. Devin Nunes', the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, decision to put that provision in the bill "made it a complete non-starter."
Pelosi and House Speaker Paul Ryan said, the bill was focused purely on reauthorizing foreign intelligence gathering capabilities and said they would address oversight of unmasking practices and privacy protections in future legislation.
President Trump has said, he is working to fix the problem and sent a memo to intelligence agencies directing them to create new policies to improve transparency of the unmasking process.
On Thursday, Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, issued a new set of guidelines on unmasking, which specify that only intelligence community leaders and their designees can approve unmasking requests.
Coats' guidelines also require documentation for names or titles of people who receive the information, according to CBS News.
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