Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul sent a letter on Friday to the Director of the National Security Agency to request an investigation into allegations the agency has spied on Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
“Mr. Carlson is a journalist, who currently hosts the popular news program Tucker Carlson Tonight, and as such he is to be afforded the freedom of the press protections guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” Paul wrote in the July 9 letter.
“As you are undoubtedly aware, Mr. Carlson recently alleged on his television show that the NSA not only read his private emails relating to his attempt to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin, but also that the NSA unmasked his identity and leaked his private emails, which identified him by name, to others in the press,” he added.
Sen Rand Paul Letter to NSA… by John P. Wise
“As the head of the NSA, you can help restore credibility to your agency by being completely honest with the American people and explaining in detail whether the NSA conducted surveillance on Tucker Carlson in his role as a journalist, whether you or anyone else within the federal government approved his alleged unmasking, and whether Mr. Carlson’s private emails were shared with any other reporters or news organizations.”
“The NSA must do more than tweet a carefully worded denial to be trusted,” Paul later tweeted.
The NSA must do more than tweet a carefully worded denial to be trusted. https://t.co/SVRkK1NrUN
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 12, 2021
On June 29, the NSA released a statement on Twitter in response to Carlson’s accusations.
“Tucker Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the Agency and the NSA has never had any plans to try to take his program off the air.
“NSA has a foreign intelligence mission. We target foreign powers to generate insights on foreign activities that could harm the United States. With limited exceptions (e.g. an emergency), NSA may not target a US citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting.”
A statement from NSA regarding recent allegations: pic.twitter.com/vduE6l6YWg
— NSA/CSS (@NSAGov) June 30, 2021
White House press secretary Jen Psaki also dismissed Carlson’s claims.
“The NSA has, I think you are well aware, everyone’s aware, everyone on this plane is aware, I should say, is an entity that focuses on foreign threats and individuals who are attempting to do us harm on foreign soil,” she told reporters, according to The Hill.
“So that is their purview, but beyond that, I would point you to the intelligence community.”
Carlson later said the NSA statement did not deny he was being monitored.
“Last night on the show we made a very straightforward claim: NSA has read my private emails without my permission. Period. That’s what we said,” Carlson said on his show on June 29, according to The Hill. “Tonight’s statement from the NSA does not deny that.”
The outlet reported “Carlson told his viewers that he asked the NSA during ‘a very heated conversation’ 20 minutes earlier if it read his emails, a question he said it refused to answer.”