Scalise Discusses FISA Abuse and Coronavirus Funding
WASHINGTON, D.C.—House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) joined Fox News Channel's America's Newsroom to discuss Congress' response to the FBI's abuse of the FISA process. Whip Scalise emphasized that the FISA process is vital to our national security but Congress must implement reforms that address the actual abuses that occurred, holds bad actors accountable, and prevents future abuse of the FISA process.
Additionally, Whip Scalise applauded the Trump Administration for their coronavirus response and the actions they have taken to protect the health and safety of Americans.
On Congress’ response to the FBI’s abuse of the FISA process:
“I think they serve an important role in our national security, and we did see abuses with the FISA court. I have very strong concerns about that. I’ve been vocal that the people who abused the FISA process need to be held accountable. And frankly, if people go to jail for abusing that court, I don’t think we’re going to see those kind of abuses again in the future. But 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. We need to keep those tools in place. 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.”
“If you look, Congressman [Jim Jordan] is proposing a number of changes in the [Judiciary Committee]. Unfortunately, [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. So far, we’re not seeing that cooperation, but we’re going to push for the kind of reforms that are necessary to make sure that this important national security tool maintains the ability and the integrity that it deserves with criminal penalties on the other side if somebody abuses the process like we've already seen.”
On preventing future abuse of the FISA court:
“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. There is still a lot left to do by the Attorney General to hold people accountable who abused the process, and I hope he does. Again, to maintain the integrity of this program that’s important to national security, you have to hold the people accountable who abused it, and I hope that Attorney General Barr uses all the tools he has available. I want him to have even more tools, but he does have some existing tools in place that he can use and hopefully will use when the Durham Report comes out to hold those people accountable and frankly, I think people should go to jail for those abuses and that's still possible under current law. I think the penalties can be stronger, but current law does give the Attorney General that ability.”
On the Trump Administration's response to the coronavirus:
"I think we all ought to be very concerned about the coronavirus, especially considering the fact that we can't get enough information out of China. We know that's where the predominant number of cases are, but we don't know much about it, and we've tried to get that information. I think President Trump's administration has handled this incredibly well. I was here in Congress when you had the Ebola outbreak, and we had a very lackluster response [from the Obama Administration]. We could not get information out of the [Obama] Administration throughout Ebola. But what you’re seeing, we've had a number of briefings by the [Trump] Administration and President Trump has been very clear, he’s going to address the nation tonight so you'll hear a lot more. But his health agencies, and I’ve met with his top health experts on coronavirus, they've offered to go and help in China. They’ve tried to get information from China on what’s really happening there. And frankly, I think it's incredibly disappointing that China won't share that information because there’s a lot we could do to help save lives there and prevent it from spreading, not just in America, but throughout the world."
On President Trump’s funding request for the coronavirus:
"This is not a political issue. Coronavirus doesn't care about your party affiliation if it’s going to strike. Luckily, we've been able to limit its influence coming into the United States, but we don't know ultimately what’s going to happen because we can't find out all the information. Let's go and debate this here in Congress. The President has laid out a request, he’s going to address the nation tonight. If Congress feels like more is needed, then we'll have a good healthy debate here and let's get it done."
"I think you’re going to hear what the President and his administration have already done in terms of health and safety to ensure that the cases that we know about in other parts of the world don't end up here in the United States. But also, there’s a lot that we've offered to help China with and asked for information from China that they have not shared. Let’s get the information out there. But people need to take all the normal precautions they would take during a heavy flu season which we're also seeing. And that is, wash your hands, just be careful of your surroundings."