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The IG report's findings are reportedly changing some Republicans' minds on FISA reform

'New urgency'

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Some Senate Republicans are starting to give a second look at reforms to the federal government's FISA surveillance program in the wake of this week's bombshell report about how it was used to surveil former Trump aide Carter Page after Page left the Trump campaign, according to a spokesman for Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

In a Thursday statement to CNN's Jake Tapper, Conn Carroll, Lee's communications director, noted a "new urgency" among some Republican lawmakers to reform issues with the program.

"A number of Republican colleagues who have been deferential to the FISA program in the past did approach Sen. Lee after yesterday's hearing looking to work with him on FISA reform going forward," Carroll told the anchor. "There is absolutely a new urgency in the conference about the issue, and Sen. Lee looks forward to working with his new FISA-skeptic allies to craft new safeguards in light of the very damning IG report."

Carroll also told National Review that he "would look for new legislation with major reforms to be introduced and hopefully incorporated into the program before it expires in March."

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report on the FISA process during the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign and associates was released on Monday. It noted "17 significant errors or omissions" in the application process for FISA warrants for former Trump campaign aide Carter Page and "many additional errors" in the procedures surrounding the FISA process.

The initial warrant was applied for after Page left the Trump campaign, and there has not yet been any confirmation that FISA surveillance was conducted on the Trump campaign prior to the election.

During a Wednesday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the report's findings, Lee — a longtime privacy hawk and advocate of FISA reform — called the report "a scathing indictment of the FBI [and] of the agents that were involved."

He went on to say that the behavior described in the report is "at a minimum so negligent, I actually would say so reckless, that it calls into question the legitimacy of the entire FISA program."

At the same hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) gave a lengthy opening statement criticizing the actions described in the document, where he concluded that "if these are few irregularities, the rule of law in this country is dead." He also said that some of those errors "should scare the hell out of all of us."

Former FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker explained called the abuses "serious" and "terrifying" in a Wednesday appearance on Fox News.

"FISA is the most intrusive technique you can use. You can put a microphone in someone's house, you can put a camera in their house. You can intercept their phone calls, you can intercept their emails, their texts, you can mirror their hard drives," Swecker explained. "It's extremely intrusive and to find out there were 17 different errors, omissions and unsupported assertions in there, is absolutely is terrifying to me."

One last thing…
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