Tucker Carlson Wants Avril Haines 'Forced' To Unmask Alleged NSA Email Leak

Fox News personality Tucker Carlson has said that Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, should be "forced" to reveal who requested his "unmasking" and has suggested that his emails were leaked to the media.

Carlson was responding to an Axios article on Wednesday that reported he had sought an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin shortly before the Fox News host claimed the National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on him. Axios reported that U.S. government officials were aware of his efforts.

During his prime-time show on Wednesday night, Carlson acknowledged that he had sought the interview and claimed that someone in the intel community had requested his unmasking and then shared the contents of his emails with the press.

When intelligence agencies collect data and share it with others in the U.S. government, the names of any private citizens who are not a subject of investigation are hidden for privacy reasons.

"Unmasking" is when those names are not hidden from the reports, at the request of officials with proper security clearance.

Carlson said: "Late this spring, I contacted a couple of people I thought could help us get an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin. I told nobody I was doing this other than my executive producer, Justin Wells."

"I wasn't embarrassed about trying to interview Putin," Carlson said. "He's obviously newsworthy. I'm an American citizen, I can interview anyone I want, and I plan to. But still, in this case, I decided to keep it quiet. I figured that any kind of publicity would rattle the Russians and make the interview less likely to happen. But the Biden administration found out anyway by reading my emails."

Carlson said a whistleblower had told him the NSA planned to leak the contents of his emails to the media in order to damage him.

"The point, of course, was to paint me as a disloyal American, a Russian operative—been called that before—a stooge of the Kremlin, a traitor doing the bidding of a foreign adversary," he said.

The Fox News host alleged that his name was unmasked and then revealed to the media.

"By law, I should have been identified internally merely as a U.S. journalist, or American journalist. That's the law," he said.

"But that's not how I was identified, I was identified by name. I was unmasked. People in the building learned who I was, and then my name and the contents of my emails left that building at the NSA and wound up with a news organization in Washington. That is illegal. In fact, it is precisely what this law was designed to prevent in the first place."

Carlson went on to demand that Haines and NSA Director General Paul Nakasone "explain who asked" for his unmasking.

"We need to find out how this happened. Who did it? Who allowed it?" Carlson said. "Paul Nakasone would know the answer. Paul Nakasone is the highly political director of the NSA. Paul Nakasone would have been required personally to approve by unmasking. That's how it works."

"Avril Haines would also likely know the answer," he went on. "Haines is the even more political director of national intelligence. She 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."

The NSA has previously denied that Carlson is a target for surveillance in a rare public response via Twitter on June 29. When contacted by Newsweek on Thursday, an NSA spokesperson said the agency had nothing to add to its previous statement.

Newsweek has asked Fox News and the office of the director of national intelligence for comment.

Update 7/8/21 10:45 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include a response from the NSA.

Tucker Carlson Speaks During a 2019 Event
Fox News host Tucker Carlson discusses 'Populism and the Right' during the National Review Institute's Ideas Summit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel March 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. Carlson has claimed he was the subject of "unmasking" by someone in the U.S. Intel community. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images