U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio wants answers about why Fox News host Tucker Carlson was “unmasked” as part of what he views as a questionable intelligence operation.
In a letter dated Aug. 3 to Director of National Intelligence Avril D. Haines, Rubio demanded answers about the National Security Agency’s “formal inquiry into allegations that Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s communications were subject to NSA collection, and that Mr. Carlson’s identity was (an) ‘unmasked’ component to that collection.”
Rubio noted that Carlson alleged impropriety on his nationally televised talk show in late June, claiming to have heard “from a whistleblower within the U.S. government who reached out to warn us that the NSA … is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air.”
“As Director of National Intelligence, it is incumbent upon you to help assure the American public that the Intelligence Community (IC) is operating consistent with the law. For this reason, I write to ask you, in coordination with the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), to conduct a formal inquiry into allegations that Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s communications were subject to NSA collection,” Rubio wrote.
“Additionally, I request that you publicly release to the greatest extent practicable, and in a manner that does not endanger intelligence sources or methods, all documents, materials, and communications supporting the conclusions of this inquiry,” Rubio added.
At issue: the credibility of the intelligence establishment itself.
“The NSA publicly responded to Mr. Carlson’s allegations with a statement on Twitter that frankly only created more questions. While the NSA’s response indicated that ‘this allegation is untrue,’ it also noted that Mr. 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.’ Notably, Mr. Carlson did not allege that he was an intelligence target. His allegation was that the NSA was ‘monitoring our electronic communications’,” Rubio wrote.
“Unfortunately, NSA’s decision to engage on the matter publicly in such a precise yet unresponsive manner has only fueled public suspicion and distrust. This is further damaging public trust in the IC. Similarly, media reports that Mr. Carlson was unmasked by a government agency or official have only fueled the perception that unmasking is being used as a political hammer or to satisfy curiosity,” Rubio added.
Carlson, who is hosting his show from Hungary this week ahead of an address at a pro-Viktor Orban political conference, has pushed the envelope in recent months, including with reporting focusing heavily on Hunter Biden intrigue as the 2020 campaign lurched toward conclusion. He claims the plan was to leak his emails to press outlets, and he holds Haines potentially responsible.
“Avril Haines would also likely know the answer. Haines is the even more political director of National Intelligence who oversees all of it. She may have approved the unmasking as well. She would certainly know who asked for it and who approved it. That’s her job to know. She should release that information immediately, tonight. And if Avril Haines does not release that information, she should be forced to release that information,” Carlson said on July 7 during his show’s opening monologue.