Rand Paul Calls Out NSA on Alleged Tucker Carlson Surveillance, 'Must Do More'

Sen. Rand Paul called out the National Security Agency (NSA) for allegedly spying on Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson in a new letter urging top intelligence officials to "do more" than just deny the surveillance claims over social media.

"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," Paul wrote to Gen. Paul Nakasone, the director of the NSA.

On June 29, the NSA denied Carlson was a target in a statement posted to Twitter, saying his allegations were "untrue" and that he "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."

But Paul took issue with the statement, saying the agency's history or surveillance over private citizens made him skeptical about the NSA's denial.

"I am open-minded enough to believe, if given convincing evidence, that the NSA may be telling the truth, but when a long train of abuses conducted by the NSA evinces a consistent design to evade the law and violate the constitutionally-protected liberties of the people, the NSA must do more than tweet a carefully worded denial to be trusted," the senator's letter reads.

He called on Nakasone to answer whether the agency has ever obtained Carlson's electronic communications related to his attempt to interview Putin, if those efforts followed federal laws protecting identity, the justifications for unmasking his identity and whether justice would be brought to whoever leaked Carlson's emails to other members of the press.

Rand Paul Tucker Carlson NSA Investigation Surveillance
Senator Rand Paul said he is "open-minded enough" to believe the NSA did not illegally spy on Fox News' Tucker Carlson but said an investigation would need to be completed first. Paul is pictured during a Senate hearing on May 11, 2021 in Washington, DC. Greg Nash/Pool

For two weeks, Carlson has alleged that the Biden administration has been spying on him and leaking the anchor's emails to other journalists and news outlets, attributing the claims to a "whistleblower within the U.S. government who reached out to warn us." He has not offered further evidence of the alleged privacy breach.

Paul's support for Carlson's claims comes as the anchor's own network has refrained from covering his claims on its other newscasts.

Speaking with Axios last week, a Fox News spokesperson said, "We support any of our hosts pursuing interviews and stories free of government interference."

Several House Republicans, including Kevin McCarthy, Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, have also called for an investigation into the allegations.

The NSA is prohibited from targeting U.S. citizens unless a federal court finds there is reason to believe they are terrorists or agents of a foreign power.

"NSA has a foreign intelligence mission," the agency wrote in its statement denying Carlson's claims. "We target foreign powers to generate insights on foreign activities that could harm the United State. With limited exceptions (e.g. an emergency), NSA may not target a US citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting."

When contacted for this story by Newsweek, the NSA declined to comment.

Update 7/12/21- 2:08 p.m. This story was updated with comments from Fox News.