Rep. Matt Gaetz Demands Investigation into NSA Monitoring of Tucker Carlson

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Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on Wednesday demanded an inspector general investigation into allegations that Fox News host Tucker Carlson is being surveilled by the National Security Agency.

“The most-watched cable news host has been stating for the last several nights that the NSA has been monitoring his communications. And amazingly, the NSA has issued a statement that is so couched, it is functionally an admission,” Gaetz said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

Gaetz went on to say:

There is no denial that they were monitoring Tucker Carlson, even if he wasn’t the target. We saw this exact playbook with Carter Page and Donald Trump, where in order to try to assess information about one person, the intelligence community will utilize authorities to go after someone else to try to ensnare their true target.

I think there’s probably someone in Tucker Carlson’s orbit that NSA was monitoring and there was no denial that they caught up Tucker Carlson in that monitoring. And by the way there is also no denial that they planned to leak the information to try to in some way embarrass Tucker Carlson. The only denial is that they weren’t expressly trying to get his show off the air. And it’s not like the NSA has never lied to us. I mean, we were told there was no bulk collection of Americans’ data. Turns out, there was bulk collection of Americans’ data. And no one was ever held to account for that.

We cannot count on these people to police themselves. And so it’s my expectation that there needs to be greater review here, and so Mr. Chairman…join me in calling for an inspector general investigation into any monitoring that the NSA or any other element of the intelligence community has engaged in relative to Tucker Carlson, because these denials — these couched denials — raise more questions than they provide answers.

Gaetz also noted that the intelligence community has gone after the staff of both Republican and Democrat members of Congress, and called on Democrats to join him in his call. “I would greatly seek any bipartisan agreement,” he said.

Carlson first alleged Monday on his show that his team was told by a government whistleblower that the NSA was “spying” on the show’s electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take the show off air. Carlson said his own communications were provided to him as proof.

The National Security Agency then issued a statement Tuesday evening addressing the allegations, which denied Carlson was a “target” and that there were “plans” to try to take his show off the air. It did not address whether the show’s communications were being or had been collected.

Civil liberties lawyer Harmeet Dhillon said on Carlson’s show on Tuesday that she suspects Carlson was surveilled under the guise that the target is a foreigner:

Dating back to 1947, our securities laws have said this spying may only be on foreigners — not on American citizens, but our government regularly flouts that. And we have the example of James Clapper lying to Congress about spying on American citizens and gathering millions of pieces of data on phone call records and all of that.

“I think what you’re going to find is that you are being described as ‘incidental’ so the gathering of your information is going to be because they are really focusing on somebody else,” she said.

House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH) made a point similar to Gaetz and Dhillon during the hearing on Wednesday.

“While the NSA said in a carefully worded statement — I encourage all of you to read that — that Mr. Carlson was not the target, not a target, they didn’t deny that they had reviewed his communications,” he said.

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