A Virginia Republican compared former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page to Martin Luther King Jr. during a congressional hearing.
Page fell under investigation by U.S. intelligence in September 2016 after he left the campaign over his reported links to sanctioned Russians, and a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court granted a warrant the following month to conduct surveillance against him.
The former campaign adviser has compared that investigation to the warrantless surveillance conducted against King, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) repeated that assertion during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.
"The Church Committee established on bipartisan basis and chaired by Democratic Sen. Frank Church in 1975 to review CIA, FBI and NSA surveillance abuses, including the improper surveillance of an American icon, Martin Luther King Jr., and other prominent individuals," Goodlatte said. "The committee also conducted a review of the insidious monitoring of political activities of citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. The Church Committee's findings resulted in the passage three years later of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act."
He claimed the Justice Department had violated that law by obtaining a FISA warrant against Page a month ahead of the 2016 election.
"Here we face the same allegations yet in manner that goes to the heart of our democracy," Goodlatte said. "It is right out of a novel, with salacious, unverified dossiers, reports of informants that appear more like spies for the U.S. government, an application of the aforementioned surveillance powers to collect on a U.S. person once associated with President Trump's political campaign."
"But it's not a novel," he added. "It's real life."
Goodlatte claimed the Inspector General's report showed the warrant had been improperly obtained and then renewed.
"It revealed that FBI agents lawyers and analysts held profound biases against then-candidate Donald Trump and in favor of his opponent, Hillary Clinton," the lawmaker said.
"While those on the other side of the aisle continued to exclaim that these are only personal, political predilections that had no effect on operations of one of the biggest investigations in our nation's history," he continued, "I wonder whether some of these same members would say the same if text messages had turned up to the tune of, 'Hillary is a disaster,' or, 'We'll stop her,' or cursing her with all manner of expletives or smugly stating that particular parts of the country smell of Hillary supporters. These types of comments were originating from people who were the fact finders in the investigation."