Screenshot: Fox Business

House Speaker Mike Johnson, a one-time hardline critic of a controversial surveillance law meant to target terrorists but which often surveils Americans’ communications without a warrant is evolving on the matter.

Johnson (R-LA) is actively opposing a new warrant requirement for Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

As reported by The Political Insider, just one meeting with intelligence agents caused the Speaker to do a complete 180 on the matter.

“When I was a member of Judiciary, I saw all of the abuses of the FBI — there were terrible abuses, over and over and over,” Johnson told reporters of his changing position.

“And then when I became Speaker, I went to the SCIF and got the confidential briefing from sort of the other perspective on that, to understand the necessity of Section 702 of FISA and how important it is for national security,” he continued. “And it gave me a different perspective.”

On Wednesday, 19 Republicans joined 209 Democrats to block the reauthorization of FISA’s Section 702. The current status of its renewal is somewhat uncertain with it set to expire on April 19th.

The Biden administration expects its authority to collect intelligence under Section 702 to remain operational until April 2025, thanks to an earlier opinion from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which oversees surveillance applications.

RELATED: Speaker Mike Johnson Gives Explanation For His Flip-Flop On FISA Spying On Americans

Kash Patel: FISA Law Must Be Reformed

Kash Patel is a former White House official under President Trump. He served in various intelligence and defense roles for the former President.

A spokesperson for Patel warns that the FISA program has been used extensively and illegally against American citizens. Including against President Trump.

“The FISC investigated and reported that [FBI Director Christopher] Wray’s FBI used FISA illegally 274,000 times against Americans last year alone,” they said in a statement.

Patel, the former Deputy Director of National Intelligence and a National Security Prosecutor, spoke with The Political Insider about the current FISA debate. He insists there is only one logical conclusion to the matter.

“FISA must be reformed,” he said. “The RussiaGate investigation, which I led for Congress, uncovered the largest criminal use of FISA by the DOJ/FBI ever.”

An investigation launched by Special Counsel Robert Mueller between 2017 and 2019 sought to examine Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, including any links or coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Patel explained to The Political Insider the Justice Department’s ultimate goal.

“The goal was to rig an election by weaponizing the intel community and launching the largest disinformation campaign in US political history,” he insists.

Despite the extensive investigation, Mueller’s final report found insufficient evidence to charge a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

RELATED: Trump Urges Republicans To Stop Warrantless Surveillance Reauthorization: ‘KILL FISA’

Why These Reforms Are Important

Kash Patel, recently rumored to be under consideration for a wide variety of roles in a second Trump administration, ranging from CIA Director to Attorney General, explains why FISA reform is so urgent.

“Americans must never be illegally surveilled using spy tools, period,” he tells The Political Insider. “Our government must never use these national defense measures against political opponents.”

On that, Patel toys with the idea that FISA 702 has been used on other presidential candidates beyond Trump.

“The FBI led the charge to illegally surveil one presidential candidate that we know of, and we should certainly question if there are any others,” he contends. “The fact that the answer to that question is in serious doubt, should shock the conscience.”

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for President, sternly demanded that Congress “kill” the FISA program earlier this week.

“Kill FISA,” he wrote on his Truth Social media platform. “It was illegally used against me and many others. They spied on my campaign!”

While Patel pushes reform, he acknowledges why past FISA abuses would lead to concerns among critics over the program who suggest it simply be killed.

“The Deep State’s own repeated, unlawful FISA abuse has set the landscape of grave mistrust. Their target has always been all things Trump,” he tells The Political Insider. “They have taken no action for meaningful recourse, and there has been near zero accountability.”

Can Trump Fix It?

Patel adds that a new administration must be put into place to restore Americans’ faith in the intelligence community. The FISA program’s most notable victim may be the only man who can fix the system.

“A regime change in the leadership cabal who authored these unconstitutional techniques to restore trust in our government agencies is the mission,” he declares. “That mission is led by Donald Trump.”

The fight Trump is facing to win the election though, will be a difficult one. When asked if the ‘deep state’ is still working to take down the GOP candidate – and using the media to aid the mission – Patel suggested that yes, it could.

“The FBI has millions of dollars in contracts with big tech on the election alone,” he said. “What do you think?”

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