Judge Napolitano says Trump should veto FISA bill: Nothing but 'cosmetic' reforms

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano had a message for President Trump on Thursday “Fox & Friends”: Veto the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) renewal bill that the House passed on Wednesday with broad bipartisan support.

The legislation reauthorizes FBI crime-fighting tools that were set to expire on Sunday and reforms the secret FISA court process that has been under the microscope in the Russia probe.

“I want the president to veto this because the president knows he has been victimized by this culture which allows suspicionless warrants on no basis whatsoever,” Napolitano said.

“Mr. President, if you are watching, tell them this is not good enough and it violates the Constitution and that you have been victimized by it,” he continued, speaking directly to President Trump.

USA Freedom Reauthorization Act -- passed by a 278-136 vote -- brought together the staunchest President Trump supporters like Reps. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and some of his fiercest critics like Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who wanted improvements to protect Americans' privacy and safeguard against surveillance abuses.

The bill includes enhanced congressional oversight of the FISA process, penalties for those who abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) process for political purposes, and the requirement to have transcripts of court proceedings.

“The only changes in this new bill are cosmetic, some secret reporting requirements to the attorney general,” Napolitano said, adding that “the same thing will happen again.”


Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., however, said, “This legislation places much-needed safeguards to prevent another Carter Page-type scandal from happening again.”

Page, a former Trump campaign adviser, blasted the legislation as a “sham” and a Republican “failure,” saying it represents a “lazy authorization” of the surveillance tool that improperly targeted him during the FBI’s Russia investigation.

“He’s absolutely right. It doesn't dial back any of the authorities,” Napolitano said of Page's criticism.

He added that he doesn’t know why some Republicans are on board with this legislation.

At issue were three surveillance provisions that are set to expire Sunday, including one that permits the FBI to obtain our orders to collect business records on subjects in national security investigations. Another, known as the “roving wiretap” provision, permits surveillance on subjects even after they’ve changed phones, and to monitor subjects who don’t have ties to international terrorist organizations.

The bill seeks to rein in a controversial portion of the surveillance powers, known as Section 215, which gives the government broad powers to demand “business records” from companies in the name of national security investigations. In an effort to better protect privacy, the legislation would prohibit using Section 215 to acquire information that would otherwise require a warrant and would ban obtaining GPS and cell site locations, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said.

“The statute that expires Saturday night is the one that allows judges to issue what are called ‘general warrants,’” Napolitano explained. “A general warrant is not based on probable cause or suspicion and it doesn't identify the person or thing to be seized or to be surveilled.”


“For example, we need a warrant to listen to all the phone calls in a given area code or a given zip code,” he continued. “One of these warrants was for all the customers of Verizon, all 113 million of them. That absolutely defies the Constitution and it creates the culture in the FBI and the intelligence community that caused all the problems that the president had.”

He then paraphrased conversations he believes “obviously” took place, where federal agents knew a FISA surveillance would be "easy to get" and allow them to monitor the Trump campaign.


“This is part of the toolbox that [former FBI Director James] Comey and company used against candidate Donald Trump that started all the problems that we still have today," Napolitano said.

Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.