Sen. Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has asked the Biden administration to formally investigate allegations that it spied on Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Mr. Rubio of Florida requested the probe Tuesday in a letter to Director of National Intelligence Avril D. Haines more than a month after Mr. Carlson first claimed the U.S. government has been monitoring his emails.
“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, and that Mr. Carlson‘s identity was ‘unmasked’ component to that collection,” wrote Mr. Rubio, the vice chair of the intelligence committee and a former 2016 presidential candidate
“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,” Mr. Rubio added.
Mr. Carlson, a conservative commentator critical of President Biden, recently claimed on his cable program that his private emails had been monitored by the NSA and then leaked to an unnamed journalist.
NSA subsequently denied targeting Mr. Carlson and explained in a rare statement that it has a “foreign intelligence mission” that mainly involves spying on foreign powers for national security purposes.
“We target foreign powers to generate insights on foreign activities that could harm the United States,” NSA said on June 29. “With limited exceptions (e.g. an emergency), NSA may not target a US citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting.”
Mr. Carlson later said the emails in question involved his efforts to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin. NSA is permitted to target Russians, including Mr. Putin and his associates, but Mr. Carlson alleges the agency overstepped its limits by revealing his identity, or “unmasking,” him.
“I should have been identified internally merely as a U.S. journalist or American journalist,” Mr. Carlson said recently. “That’s the law. But that’s not how I was identified. I was identified by name.”
Mr. Rubio told Ms. Haines that NSA’s earlier response to Mr. Carlson‘s claims “only created more questions,” fueling speculation and “further damaging public trust” in the intelligence community that she leads.
“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,” Mr. Rubio added. “As such, it is essential that the IC — under your leadership — hold itself to account if misconduct has occurred, and convincingly reassure an American public increasingly attuned to the perception of widespread misconduct where it has not occurred.”
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence received Mr. Rubio‘s letter and will respond accordingly, an official told The Washington Times on Wednesday.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, said in June that he had asked the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee to probe Mr. Carlson‘s claims. His findings have not yet been released.