Asked on Tuesday if the Biden administration is spying on Fox News host Tucker Carlson, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki didn’t give a straight answer.
According to a transcript from the White House, a reporter pressed Psaki on Carlson’s claims, first made on his eponymous Fox program the night before, “that the [National Security Agency] is spying on him.”
“Is the administration aware of any espionage or listening efforts on U.S. citizens by the NSA, and is Tucker Carlson one of them?” the reporter asked.
Spying on a journalist?
In response, Psaki demurred, pointing the journalist to the intelligence community for clarification.
“Well, the NSA, as I think you’re well aware — I’m not sure everyone is aware — everyone on this plane is aware, I should say — is an entity that focuses on foreign threats and individuals who are trying — attempting to do us harm on foreign soil. So, that is the — their purview,” the press secretary said, according to the transcript. “But beyond that, I would point you to the intelligence community.”
Carlson had said on his self-named program Monday night that he’d “heard from a whistleblower within the U.S. government” that the NSA had been “monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air.”
“The NSA captured that information without our knowledge and did it for political reasons,” the Fox host claimed, according to The Daily Wire. “The Biden administration is spying on us. We have confirmed that.”
Carlson also reportedly said that his team had “filed a FOIA request — [a] Freedom of Information Act request — asking for all information that the NSA and other agencies have gathered about this show.” Still, he admitted: “We did it mostly as a formality. We’ve also contacted the press office of both NSA and the FBI.”
NSA says Carlson has “never” been a target
According to The Hill, the NSA said in a statement this week that Carlson “has never been an intelligence target.”
“Tucker Carlson 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,” the agency said. “NSA has a foreign intelligence mission. We target foreign powers to generate insights on foreign activities that could harm the United States.”
It went on: “With limited exceptions (e.g. an emergency), NSA may not target a U.S. citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting.”
Carlson, however, has argued that the NSA’s statement “does not deny” his claims, as The Hill notes.