Amid his exploratory committee for the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination, congressman Justin Amash continues to take aim at Joe Biden and Donald Trump — his potential rivals. On Thursday evening, Amash accused Trump's Department of Justice (DOJ) of fighting against the rights of Americans.
Amash took issue with a recent statement from National Security Spokesman Mark Raimondi, who criticized the amended Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) reauthorization that passed the Senate on Thursday. According to Raimondi, the amendment of H.R. 6172, also known as the USA Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2020, would "degrade" the DOJ's ability to conduct surveillance of spies, terrorists, and other national security threats. As reported by Politico, the amendment included expanded "legal protections" that Attorney General William Barr helped negotiate for specific groups of individuals that are "targeted by federal surveillance."
According to Amash, the DOJ's opposition to the new amendment reflects their opposition to American rights.
"To be clear, this is Donald Trump's Department of Justice arguing against better protection of Americans' rights at the FISA court. The bill is still bad; the administration wants it to be worse."As reported by Politico, the amended bill will now move back to the House, where it initially passed by a "wide, bipartisan margin." Trump, who has frequently accused the federal government of misusing its spying powers, has not revealed whether he supports the bill with amendments to such powers.
Republican Sen. Mike Lee, who helped secure the amendment with Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, offered praise for the bill.
"We got some good reforms here," Lee said.
"They are consistent with many of the aims that House members who negotiated the last House bill had in mind."Lee previously lobbied Trump to veto the bill if it reached his desk without the amendment. Amash previously criticized Barr for his alleged role in creating a surveillance state. He also slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his alleged role in driving the expansion of the Patriot Act — an expansion that was reportedly conducted with the help of Trump and his allies to provide Barr with more power.
Throughout his congressional career, Amash has worked against FISA and has leveled criticism at both Republicans and Democrats for failing to reign in the powers provided by the act. The 40-year-old congressman previously offered an amendment that would prevent the bill from being used against Americans engaged in crimes unrelated to terrorism or national security. However, Trump threatened a veto of the change and ultimately signed a law that expanded such powers.