- President Trump appears to be changing his tune regarding an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller on the Russian Federation investigation. It directs civilian and military agencies to establish plans within 90 days in consultation with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
Unmasking refers to the largely separate issue of how Americans' names kept secret in intelligence reports can be revealed. The president has said that his campaign and Trump Tower was spied on by the Obama administration, calling the former president a "bad (or sick) guy!"
The White House supported the bill passed by the House on Thursday. The underlying bill only requires the government to seek a court order when they want to use what they find about Americans in criminal cases.
The vote, 256 to 164, centred on an expiring law, Section 702 of the FISAAmendments Act, which permits the government to collect without a warrant from American firms, like Google and AT&T, the emails and other communications of foreigners overseas - even when they are talking to Americans. According to USA Today, the vote was 256-164.
The White House did not respond to emails requesting comment to fully clarify the president's position.
The House is expected to vote on a version that would put restrictions on how the Federal Bureau of Investigation could use information on Americans that is inadvertently swept up by the program.
Schiff said the FBI's statement to aides makes sense because the vast majority of queries of the database were for national security cases, which fall outside the warrant requirement. Nunes' bill restricts the data collected under Section 702 that involves US citizens and would temporarily stop federal agents from collecting emails or texts that mention a suspect but aren't directly to or from a target.
Should the bill pass unchanged, Senate leaders say they expect their chamber to approve it before it expires on January 19.
Before approving the extension of the law, known as Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, the House voted 233 to 183 to reject an amendment that proposed a series of overhauls.
While live-tweeting Fox & Friends on Thursday morning, President Trump expressed alarm that the House of Representatives may approve a bill reauthorizing the the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) - legislation that was used to surveil Trump campaign officials as part of the FBI's investigation into possible collusion with Russian Federation. It remains to be seen if Trump is actually thinking about changing that position, but if he did, it would obviously represent a very significant development for the controversial program, and Trump of course has veto power over such things.
Trump tweeted about the program Thursday. For instance, the bills would codify into law that 17 law enforcement agencies would be able to access the raw mass surveillance data on both foreigners and Americans, without a warrant.
Those unmasking procedure changes were included in an initial version of the FISA reauthorization in December, but were pulled as it appeared they would jeopardize the program when it was set to expire that month; Democrats had unanimously opposed the legislation when it was voted on by the committee.