Jesse Watters, the generally light-hearted Fox News host who began his network career coordinating humorous “man-on-the-street” interviews, took conservative Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to task for co-sponsoring the so-called the RESTRICT Act, a bill currently moving through Congress.
Reportedly, the bill, which has the support of the White House, is to guard American citizens and businesses against having private information captured by affiliates of the Chinese government via the TikTok app. The anti-spy aspect of the bill quickly gained broad support in Congress.
However, the 55-page bill has profound implications, which host Jesse Waters believes should alarm every American citizen. The Fox News host began a segment with Lindsey Graham by providing a shocking overview.
Watters noted that the bill, which does not name TikTok, includes multiple provisions for the American government to spy on its citizens without accountability or oversite.
In his introduction to the segment, Watters sharply criticized the bill:
“The bill allows the U.S. government to review and prohibit certain transactions between citizens of the United States and foreign governments.” He said, “It allows the U.S. government to enforce any litigation measures, to address any risk arising from any transaction, by any person, without any respect from any property, that the government deems appropriate.
“Translation: The federal government wants to watch anything you do on the internet. And I mean anything — any transaction, any search, and click, any scroll. The government can just say, ‘Jesse may be involved with the Chinese. Let’s take a look at his computer and I phone.’ The government doesn’t even need a reason — they can just make one up like they did with the Russia hoax.”
Regarding the lack of oversite or accountability, Watters said, “The courts are cut out; Congress is cut out. The White House gets to decide what they want to look at and why … the government does not even need to know if the site you clicked on is foreign — they just have to want to know that it’s foreign, and then it’s open season on your search history. …
“And they don’t need probable cause. This is illegal search and seizure. And then you’re put on a spy list, [and] the government has the power to … “inspect, detain, search, and seize, any of your records and information — your banking records; your photos — without any evidence you’ve committed a crime.
“They can even break into your ‘ring doorbell,’ or your Xbox, or your Amazon Alexa. And here’s the best part: You’re not allowed to challenge it … the last sentence [reads], ‘You’re not allowed to file a freedom of information act [to challenge what the government is doing].
“And another footnote reads, ‘These powers can’t be reviewed by a court.’ You can even go to prison for 20 years for violating this statute.”
Watters summarized the bill by saying: “Did the United States Senate just say we are going to protect you from China by spying on you?”
An angry Watters then addressed Graham, saying, “You have got to be kidding me, Senator. Did you read this?”
An embarrassed Graham attempted to put distance between his office and the bill saying, “I don’t think I support the RESTRICT Act.”
Watters pressed: “You don’t support this?” Watters asked, “Because you were named as one of the supporters, ’cause this is garbage.”
The bill in question is RESTRICT Act, S 686. Graham co-sponsored at least one version of the bill currently being debated in Congress and appeared unsure if he is the co-sponsor of the bill Watters reviewed.
Graham attempted to speak to aspects of the bill most Americans agree with, saying:
“Here’s the problem as I see it. China is the parent company of TikTok, and my nieces like TikTok,” Graham said. “I don’t mind them using TikTok. I just don’t want the Chinese government to seize all their data and manipulate the information America sees for political purposes. China is helping drug cartels in Mexico. China is not a friend.”
Watters did not let Graham off the hook, saying: “On Congress.gov you are listed as one of the co-sponsors [of this bill]. Maybe it’s like Fetterman when your chief of staff does all your work for you.”
Watters added: “You have got to go back and talk to the other senators about this. This thing is nuts. And it’s going to get abused like it always does. We have got clean this up. Can we clean this up?”
Graham acknowledged the bill has issues and that not being familiar with all aspects of the bill “makes me look bad.” Graham replied:
“Well, yeah. I mean, number one, I owe you a better explanation than I’m giving you. John Thune has got a bill to make sure the secretary of Commerce can deal with this, not just TikTok, but the general idea that China – we’re under attack by China.”
Graham continued: “Now, that’s a fact. Chinese Communist Party is stealing American data. Espionage against American businesses is all-time high, according to FBI. So, yeah. I’m definitely going to push back against China to be able to steal your data but I want to do it in a constitutionally sound manner.”
The Daily Caller included the following follow-up statement from Graham’s office in their report:
“Admittedly, it wasn’t Senator Graham’s best interview tonight. It happens. However, I expect Sen. Graham will speak to his support for the Restrict Act and concerns about the Chinese communist party’s control of Tik[T]ok tomorrow.”
“[Graham] said he would be happy to go back on Jesse to discuss the issue further,’ and we look forward to doing that soon.”
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