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house Bill H.R. 2286

Should the FBI Immediately Notify Congress About Election-Related Counterintelligence Investigations?

Argument in favor

Congress’s oversight duties demand that the Congressional intelligence committees remain informed about the FBI’s election-related counterintelligence activities is doing. As the 2016 election demonstrates, keeping Congress out of the loop in regards to FBI investigations can have significant consequences.

Deborah's Opinion
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10/26/2019
I am astonished this question needs to be asked. Since we know what happened last election, we would be beyond ignorant to not ready for it to occur again! I worry that not enough is being done to prevent interference in future elections.
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James's Opinion
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10/26/2019
Yes. Items that could affect fraud of any type should be reported no matter if it affects a political opinion or not.
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Sneaky-Pete's Opinion
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10/26/2019
Pass this. bill — the Counterintelligence Accountability Act which would require the FBI Director to give the Congressional intelligence committees quarterly briefings on the FBI’s counterintelligence activities and immediately notify congressional committees if the FBI carries out counterintelligence investigations involving U.S. elections. These briefings would include, at a minimum, an overview and update of: 1) the Bureau’s counterintelligence posture; 2) counterintelligence investigations; and 3) any other information relating to the Bureau’s counterintelligence activities which the Director deems necessary for Congress to be informed of.  Congress’s oversight duties demand that the Congressional intelligence committees remain informed about the FBI’s election-related counterintelligence activities is doing. As the 2016 election demonstrates, keeping Congress out of the loop in regards to FBI investigations can have significant consequences. Sneaky Pete. 👍🏻👍🏻Pass-It👍🏻👍🏻. 10.26.19
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Argument opposed

This bill could have unintended consequences, like requiring the FBI Director to disclose election-altering information too close to election dates in a manner that affects public opinion. This would violate the Hatch Act and call the affected election’s results into question.

jimK's Opinion
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10/26/2019
I would much rather have legislation that focuses on ensuring that an appointed AG has primary allegiance to the constitution, our country and then the administration. The DOJ must be an apolitical resource for our country, and the AG position must be redefined to ensure that the DOJ operates in an apolitical manner. Our trust that the FBI is a fair arbiter of justice has been compromised by Barr’s politicalization of the DOJ. The Kavanaugh FBI investigation was a farce and should never have been coordinated by the White House attorney. We need to get politics out of directing DOJ operations because it does bring distrust of what once one of our most trusted government institutions. And yes, Congress needs to stay out of FBI operations as well; the FBI should never be nor ever perceived to be politicized. Investigations need to conducted confidentially until enough corroborating evidence is gathered to warrant disclosure to Congress. Congressional oversight of DOJ directives and policies are valid and applicable; political involvement with ongoing investigations absolutely is not.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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10/26/2019
This bill is attempting to undermine the Hatch act and our security to turn the FBI into a political weapon. Do I think the timing of Comey’s announcement affected the 2016 election? Yes! Do I think it’s worth corrupting the FBI’s ability to do their jobs for the sake of politics? NO. The Hatch act exists FOR A REASON!! Also, I don’t know where this “Lost trust in the FBI” narrative is coming from. If there are government agencies that have lost the trust of America, it is ICE. ICE has shown America what happens when you turn a law enforcement agency into a naked political weapon. ITS NOT GOOD!
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Thelma's Opinion
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10/26/2019
The problem with the 2016 election was not in lacking rule of law, it was people - Republicans - vying for power who didn’t care about law, process, the Constitution, or any of the responsibilities required to keep a democratic republic. This bill was written by a Republican with an agenda. The republican agenda is to win power, stay in power, and make money. Republicans have shown they don’t care about governing, and they don’t care about the American people. Oh, except where American people can be exploited.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedApril 10th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 2286?

This bill — the Counterintelligence Accountability Act — would require the FBI Director to give the Congressional intelligence committees quarterly briefings on the FBI’s counterintelligence activities and immediately notify congressional committees if the FBI carries out counterintelligence investigations involving U.S. elections. These briefings would include, at a minimum, an overview and update of: 1) the Bureau’s counterintelligence posture; 2) counterintelligence investigations; and 3) any other information relating to the Bureau’s counterintelligence activities which the Director deems necessary for Congress to be informed of. 

In addition to the quarterly briefings, the FBI Director would promptly notify the congressional intelligence committees of any counterintelligence investigations the Bureau carries out regarding: 

  • A candidate seeking the nomination for or election to a federal office;
  • A political campaign of a candidate seeking the nomination for or election to a federal office; and
  • An individual known to be associated with the political campaign of  a candidate seeking the nomination for or election to a federal office.

The FBI Director would coordinate with the Attorney General and consult with the Congressional intelligence committees to develop guidelines governing the scope of the briefings provided under this bill. 

Impact

FBI; Congressional intelligence committees; FBI briefings and notifications to Congressional intelligence committees; FBI Director; and Attorney General.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2286

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) introduced this bill to direct the FBI Director to brief the Congressional intelligence committees on the FBI’s counterintelligence activities and ensure Congressional oversight of FBI investigations

“Despite informal protocols followed in the past, James Comey failed to notify Congress about his investigation into the Trump Presidential campaign. This loophole in the law allows the FBI to circumvent Congress and unilaterally conduct investigations without any congressional oversight. My bill will ensure that the right congressional overseers are informed of sensitive counterintelligence investigations into campaigns for Federal office, and I’m proud to lead this effort for transparency.”

In another statement when this bill’s language passed the House as part of the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA), Rep. Stefanik added:

“The FBI should not be able to circumvent Congress and unilaterally conduct investigations without any congressional oversight due to a loophole in the law, and I’m proud to continue leading the effort for transparency and provide the American people with the certainty that the FBI is subject to the same standards as other intelligence agencies.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) spoke about the need for better Congressional oversight of the FBI in a June 20, 2001 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, “Oversight of the FBI”:  

“The FBI has long been considered a crown jewel of law enforcement agencies. Unfortunately, today it has lost a lot of its earlier luster. Unfortunately, the image of the FBI in the minds of too many Americans is that this agency has become unmanageable, unaccountable and unreliable. Its much-vaunted independence has been transformed for some into an image of insular arrogance… An erosion of public trust threatens the FBI's ability to perform its mission. Think of the effect it will have on judges and juries and people who must rely on the FBI. Think of what happens when FBI agents perform forensic and other critical work for law enforcement and we cannot trust them. We have allocated to the FBI millions, even billions of dollars in increased funding because we wanted to have it become one of the world's leading crime-fighting agencies. Simply throwing money is not enough; we must do the oversight necessary… We have to ask ourselves, who polices the FBI?”

It’s worth considering how this bill’s provisions could conflict with an FBI official’s responsibilities under the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal officials from using their authority to influence an election’s outcome. When then-FBI Director James Comey notified Congress on October 28, 2016 that the FBI had found new emails tied to its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server — mere days before the November 8, 2016 presidential election — some critics argued that his actions were partisan and could influence the election’s outcome. At that time, Comey characterized his decision to communicate the new emails to Congress as a matter of personal discretion. In a memo to FBI employees, he wrote: 

“Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record.  At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression. In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.”

However, were this bill to be enacted, future FBI directors wouldn’t have a choice about whether or when to reveal this type of information to Congress — they would have to reveal it immediately, regardless of potential risks to elections.

This legislation has eight Republican cosponsors, including every Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. Language from this bill was included in the Damon Paul Nelson and Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) (H.R.3494) for FY2020, which passed the House by a 397-31 vote on July 17, 2019.


Of NoteRep. Stefanik introduced this bill after questioning then-FBI Director James Comey at a 2017 hearing in which he revealed that he didn’t follow the proper protocol of notifying Congress about opening a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016. In the hearing, then-Director Comey said he didn’t follow the typical protocols or procedures for notifying Congress of his opening of a counterintelligence investigation in part because he wasn’t required to do so. 

Defending his decision, Comey said, “I think our decision was, it was a matter of such sensitivity that we wouldn’t include it in the quarterly briefings.” Following this hearing, Rep. Stefanik has repeatedly said that Comey’s decision not to brief even the bipartisan Gang of Eight (leaders of the congressional intelligence committees, plus the top Republican and Democrat from each chamber) was a mistake. 


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / South_agency)

AKA

To amend the National Security Act of 1947 to direct the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to provide to the congressional intelligence committees briefings regarding counterintelligence activities of the Bureau, and for other purposes.

Official Title

To amend the National Security Act of 1947 to direct the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to provide to the congressional intelligence committees briefings regarding counterintelligence activities of the Bureau, and for other purposes.

    I am astonished this question needs to be asked. Since we know what happened last election, we would be beyond ignorant to not ready for it to occur again! I worry that not enough is being done to prevent interference in future elections.
    Like (35)
    Follow
    Share
    I would much rather have legislation that focuses on ensuring that an appointed AG has primary allegiance to the constitution, our country and then the administration. The DOJ must be an apolitical resource for our country, and the AG position must be redefined to ensure that the DOJ operates in an apolitical manner. Our trust that the FBI is a fair arbiter of justice has been compromised by Barr’s politicalization of the DOJ. The Kavanaugh FBI investigation was a farce and should never have been coordinated by the White House attorney. We need to get politics out of directing DOJ operations because it does bring distrust of what once one of our most trusted government institutions. And yes, Congress needs to stay out of FBI operations as well; the FBI should never be nor ever perceived to be politicized. Investigations need to conducted confidentially until enough corroborating evidence is gathered to warrant disclosure to Congress. Congressional oversight of DOJ directives and policies are valid and applicable; political involvement with ongoing investigations absolutely is not.
    Like (100)
    Follow
    Share
    This bill is attempting to undermine the Hatch act and our security to turn the FBI into a political weapon. Do I think the timing of Comey’s announcement affected the 2016 election? Yes! Do I think it’s worth corrupting the FBI’s ability to do their jobs for the sake of politics? NO. The Hatch act exists FOR A REASON!! Also, I don’t know where this “Lost trust in the FBI” narrative is coming from. If there are government agencies that have lost the trust of America, it is ICE. ICE has shown America what happens when you turn a law enforcement agency into a naked political weapon. ITS NOT GOOD!
    Like (72)
    Follow
    Share
    The problem with the 2016 election was not in lacking rule of law, it was people - Republicans - vying for power who didn’t care about law, process, the Constitution, or any of the responsibilities required to keep a democratic republic. This bill was written by a Republican with an agenda. The republican agenda is to win power, stay in power, and make money. Republicans have shown they don’t care about governing, and they don’t care about the American people. Oh, except where American people can be exploited.
    Like (42)
    Follow
    Share
    This is trying to turn the FBI into a political weapon. No can do.
    Like (32)
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    No. This is a gross violation of the Hatch Act! I’m with Burrkitty. This would allow the FBI to be utilized as a political weapon, as we all saw in 2016.
    Like (28)
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    I no longer trust any ideas from Republicans. NO.
    Like (27)
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    I'm with burrkitty on this and so many things. It is TraitorTrump and the entire GOP that have questioned our Intelligence Agencies ability to do their jobs. This is all just more Bull Crap!
    Like (24)
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    Wouldn’t this notify guilty parties so they could destroy evidence? Couldn’t this information be leaked by someone so that their opponent looks bad even that opponent may not be guilty?
    Like (22)
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    NOPE. NUNES WILL RUN TO THAT MORON IN THE WHITE HOUSE AND TELL HOM EVERYTHING. BESIDES, AN INVESTIGATION IS SUPPOSED TO BE SECRET AND DISCREET, RIGHT??
    Like (20)
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    No. Reports are a waste of time and to have to report to an inept Congress too ? Just take action under “The Law” to stop it.
    Like (18)
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    This bill is simply created so that Donald Trump or his future replacement who has his same moral and intellectual failings can learn that the FBI has figured out what crimes they are committing. What a joke, and of course it is proposed by the GOP. Perhaps they would just prefer to move to Russia.
    Like (15)
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    This would be a violation of the Hatch Act
    Like (13)
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    The FBI would “...coordinate with Attorney General...” Really! With AG Barr? And how would you stop ‘leaking’ among Congress? Aren’t FBI investigations supposed to be guarded and free from interference?
    Like (12)
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    Congress might block an investigation so I am against this idea.
    Like (11)
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    It’s more of a reflection on just how low the GOP will stoop. We already have The Hatch Act - no need for this. This is simply a partisan hack job and, I no linger trust that the GOP has any of my interests at heart. They’re so complicit with this WH - that it needs a cleanse.
    Like (10)
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    This bill politicizes the FBI.
    Like (10)
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    The FBI does not report to Congress, a different branch of government.
    Like (9)
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    See comments by JimK - eloquent, to the point and is the best outline of what is needed as opposed to this silly knee-jerk bill.
    Like (9)
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    Congress neither MAKES nor ADJUDICATES the laws. This ia another blatant attempt by the Congress to tear down the separation of powers between the Executive, the Judicial and the branches.
    Like (8)
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