Former NSA Director Calls Kevin McCarthy an A**hole Over Tucker Carlson Statement

Ex-director of the National Security Agency (NSA), Michael Hayden, has condemned House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) after he called for a probe into claims Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson was spied upon.

The Fox host said on Monday he had been informed by a government whistleblower that the NSA had been reading "our electronic communications, our emails and texts," and that it planned to leak them "in an effort to hurt us."

In response, the NSA outlined its organizational priorities in dismissing Carlson's claims, saying in a statement that had a "foreign intelligence mission" and that with "limited exceptions" it would never target a U.S. citizen without a court order.

Ex-CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden
Michael Hayden, ex-director of the CIA and NSA, is pictured in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2017. He has criticized Rep. Kevin McCarthy who called for a probe into claims the NSA was spying on Fox News anchor, Tucker Carlson. Julia Reinhart/Getty

"Tucker Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the Agency and the NSA has never had any plans to take his program off the air," the NSA statement said.

Carlson then called the agency's response a "paragraph of lies," which he said "does not deny" his claims.

McCarthy addressed Carlson's allegations in a statement on Wednesday and said he had "serious questions" for the NSA.

Hayden, who served as the NSA head between 1999 and 2005, took a dim view of McCarthy's statement.

He shared this with his 300,000 Twitter followers, adding the message: "You're an a**hole."

As of Thursday morning, the curt tweet had been liked nearly 18,000 times, and retweeted more than 3,000 times.

Hayden is a retired United States Air Force four-star general, who served as Director of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) between 2006 and 2009.

He also served as principal deputy Director of National Intelligence.

Last year, he told CNN, where he is a national security analyst, that he endorsed Joe Biden for president and said that the re-election of ex-President Donald Trump would be "very bad for America."

In his statement, McCarthy addressed Carlson's claims while also taking other issues with actions of the agency.

"Now, there is a public report that NSA read the emails of Fox News host Tucker Carlson," McCarthy said in his statement, "although NSA publicly denied targeting Carlson, I have serious questions regarding this matter that must be answered,"

McCarthy said he had asked Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, "to investigate and find answers on behalf of the American people."

He suggested the accusations tie in with what he branded a pattern of the "politicization of the Agency," which included "the sidelining of Michael Ellis as NSA General Counsel."

McCarthy urged Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, to restore Ellis, who resigned in April after he said he had been placed on administrative leave, "without any explanation," according to The Washington Post.

Newsweek has contacted McCarthy's office and the NSA for comment.

Update 07/01/21, 9:15 a.m. ET: This article was updated to add the missing word "upon" in the opening sentence.