Last year, Attorney General Bill Barr began looking into potential Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuse committed during the Trump–Russia collusion probe — and according to Fox News, one congressman says that if such conduct is uncovered, those responsible should face jail time.
In April of 2019, Barr tasked U.S. Attorney John Durham with examining the Russia probe’s origins, according to USA Today, and by autumn, his inquiry had transformed into a criminal investigation. Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise is of the opinion that Durham shouldn’t pull any punches in terms of evidence uncovered in the course of his review.
Scalise demands accountability
During a Fox News appearance on Wednesday, Scalise told hosts Sandra Smith and Ed Henry that wrongdoers need to be “held accountable” for their behavior.
“And frankly, if people go to jail for abusing that court, I don’t think we’re going to see those [kinds] of abuses again in the future,” the House minority whip explained.
However, he also expressed worry that proposed legislation to reform the FISA process is unlikely to do enough to truly address the threat of bad actors.
“I am concerned that the bill that’s moving through this week is not, frankly, including enough of the reforms and criminal penalties that need to be included to make sure that if somebody does abuse the FISA court they will be held accountable,” Scalise continued.
“We need to keep those tools in place,” he emphasized. “They’re vital to our national security, but they were abused and if they’re abused again, then people need to be held accountable and the penalties need to fit the crime. Which right now, I don’t think they do.”
Democrats sabotaging process
While Scalise had words of praise for the efforts of fellow Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), he stated his belief that House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) is actively attempting to sabotage efforts to increase accountability.
“If you look, Congressman [Jim Jordan] is proposing a number of changes in the [Judiciary Committee],” Scalise noted.
“Unfortunately,” he added, “[Chairman Jerry Nadler] is trying to make this a very partisan process where he is shutting out the Republican side, but he would be well served to work with both parties and sit down with Congressman Jordan on the reforms that he and the members of his committee have been looking at and responsibly putting together.”
But despite his apprehension, Scalise appeared confident that Durham’s investigation could lead to meaningful action.
“In fact, the Durham Report, I am hopeful is going to literally name names, list the people who did abuse the FISA court and lay out penalties that then Attorney General Barr can go and carry out,” he said.