House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called President Trump on Thursday to make sure they were on the same page before the vote. Trump seemed to tweet his opposition for a bill that was being championed by his own White House.
According to The Washington Post, Ryan phoned the president after he tweeted that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) had been used “so badly” to spy on the Trump campaign by the Obama administration “and others.”
“House votes on controversial FISA ACT today. This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?” Trump tweeted Thursday.
Trump’s tweet ignited some intense activity on Capitol Hill just as they were getting ready to vote on both the full act and a controversial amendment that would have limited the government’s privacy powers.
Ryan spent a half hour on the phone with the president, and Trump then tweeted a second, more clear message in support of the FISA Act.
“With that being said, I have personally directed the fix to the unmasking process since taking office and today’s vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it! Get smart!” Trump tweeted 90 minutes later.
The back and forth from the president prompted former CIA chief John McLaughlin to say to the Post: “The president’s ping-pong on attitudes toward the FISA renewal suggests to me that he doesn’t fully understand the issue, which is complicated even for experts to understand. For the intelligence community, it is yet another signal that the president is not fully attuned to how they operate and how carefully they stay within the law.”
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary, insisted Thursday that there was no discrepancy between the president’s tweets, and explained that Trump was supportive of the bill all along.
“We don’t think there was a conflict at all,” Sanders said. “The president fully supports [FISA] and was happy to see that it passed the House today…We don’t see any contradiction or confusion in that.”