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Tucker Carlson was called to Washington because of a possible interview with Putin.

Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson said the US National Security Agency hacked into his Signal account and read correspondence about a planned interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to the presenter, he received a call and was summoned to Washington to clarify the situation. When he arrived, the question was asked if he was planning a trip to meet with Putin.

“How did you know, I didn’t tell anyone. Not at all. Not to my brother, not to my wife, not to anyone at all. How did you know? Because the NSA hacked into your correspondence with another person with whom you discussed this,” Carlson said.

The day before, RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said that Tucker Carlson wants to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Scoop: Tucker Carlson sought Putin interview at time of spying claim

Tucker Carlson was talking to U.S.-based Kremlin intermediaries about setting up an interview with Vladimir Putin shortly before the Fox News host accused the National Security Agency of spying on him, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Those sources said U.S. government officials learned about Carlson's efforts to secure the Putin interview.
Carlson learned that the government was aware of his outreach — and that's the basis of his extraordinary accusation, followed by a rare public denial by the NSA that he had been targeted.

Axios has not confirmed whether any communications from Carlson have been intercepted, and if so, why.

The big picture: Carlson's charges instantly became a cause célèbre on the right, which feasted on the allegation that one of
America's most prominent conservatives might have been monitored by the U.S. intelligence community.

The backstory: Carlson told his roughly 3 million viewers on June 28 that the day before, he had heard "from a whistleblower within the U.S. government who reached out to warn us that the NSA … is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air."

Carlson said his source, "who is in a position to know, repeated back to us information about a story that we are working on that could have only come directly from my texts and emails."

"It's illegal for the NSA to spy on American citizens," Carlson added. "Things like that should not happen in America. But unfortunately, they do happen. And in this case, they did happen."

The NSA said in a tweet the next night, as Carlson's show went on the air, that his "allegation is untrue."

"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 statement said.

A Fox News spokesperson gave this response to our reporting: "We support any of our hosts pursuing interviews and stories free of government interference."

And Carlson gave this statement: "As I've said repeatedly, because it's true, the NSA read my emails, and then leaked their contents. That's an outrage, as well as illegal.”

It is unclear why Carlson, or his source, would think this outreach could be the basis for NSA surveillance or a motive to have his show canceled.

Journalists routinely reach out to world leaders — including the leaders of countries that are not allied with the U.S. — to request interviews. And it's not unusual to first reach out through unofficial intermediaries rather than through the leaders' official press offices.

Numerous American journalists have interviewed Putin in recent years, and none have faced professional repercussions. Quite the contrary: Chris Wallace earned Fox News its first Emmy nomination for his 2018 Putin interview.
On Wednesday, Carlson told Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business that only his executive producer knew about the communications in question and that he didn't mention it to anybody else, including his wife.

But, of course, the recipients of Carlson's texts and emails also knew about their content. And we don't know how widely they shared this information.

Between the lines: The NSA's public statement didn't directly deny that any Carlson communications had been swept up by the agency.

Axios submitted a request for comment to the NSA on Wednesday, asking whether the agency would also be willing to categorically deny that the NSA intercepted any of Carlson's communications in the context of monitoring somebody he was talking to in his efforts to set up an interview with Putin.

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