House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA) on Tuesday called for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court to be disbanded, in light of a damaging inspector general’s report.
The FISA court, which was established in 1978 to oversee investigators’ requests to surveil people suspected of espionage, including Americans, played a central role in a recent report from Justice Department’s top watchdog focused on the FBI’s Russia probe.
While the report from DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that the Russia probe was well-founded, it found numerous errors and omissions in the FBI’s applications to surveil Trump campaign foreign policy aide Carter Page. The court’s top judge wrote to the executive branch on Tuesday — a rare public notice — ordering it to propose solutions to the problems Horowitz identified.
In a Fox News interview Tuesday night, Nunes said he was glad to see the court pushing back against the DOJ, but added, “the FISC court is also culpable in this madness.” The court ignored two letters from congressional Republicans related to the Russia probe FISA applications, Nunes said.
“The court knew about all of this. So I’m glad they’ve acted, I’m glad they’ve said something. But I think the court has to be ended,” he said, adding later: “They’ve left Congress no choice but to have to step in and fix this process.”
Nunes’ antagonism toward the FISA court, fueled by his defense of President Donald Trump and members of Trump’s campaign, comes despite his support for broad secret surveillance powers.
As Vox’s Jane Coaston noted, Nunes has advocated expanding a controversial section of FISA, 702, that allows warrantless wiretapping of non-Americans believed to be outside of the country.
Just two years ago, Nunes said the intelligence value of Section 702 “cannot be overstated.” Soon after that, he published the so-called “Nunes memo,” alleging that the FBI had misled the FISA court.