House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Wednesday called for a probe into the National Security Agency (NSA), citing a “disturbing trend” that includes allegations of spying on Fox News host Tucker Carlson and the sidelining of Trump-appointed Michael Ellis as the agency’s general counsel.
McCarthy said in a June 30 statement that he has observed a pattern of action in recent months on the part of the agency that he finds “disturbing.”
“Earlier this year, I sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Austin expressing concern over the politicization of the Agency through the sidelining of Michael Ellis as NSA General Counsel,” McCarthy said, adding that he had requested that Ellis, who was first placed on administrative leave and later resigned, be reinstated to his post. The California Republican also reiterated his concern that Ellis’s sidelining was the result of “undue political influence.”
Ellis, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in the waning days of his presidency, was put on administrative leave the day President Joe Biden took office. In an April 16 resignation letter to NSA director Gen. Paul Nakasone, published by The Washington Post, Ellis wrote that he had been sidelined “for nearly three months without any explanation or updates, and there is no sign that NSA will attempt to solve the issue. I therefore resign my position, effective immediately.”
McCarthy also accused the NSA of refusing to cooperate with the GOP.
“It has recently come to my attention that NSA has refused to deliver information requested by the Republican Members on the House Intelligence Committee who are trying to fulfill their oversight responsibilities,” McCarthy said in the statement.
He then noted recent allegations made by Tucker Carlson that the agency had spied on him.
“Now, there is a public report that NSA read the emails of Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Although NSA publicly denied targeting Carlson, I have serious questions regarding this matter that must be answered,” McCarthy said.
“Given this disturbing trend, I’ve asked HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] Ranking Member Devin Nunes to investigate and find answers on behalf of the American people. The NSA cannot be used as a political instrument, and House Republicans will ensure accountability and transparency,” the California Republican wrote.
The NSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on McCarthy’s remarks, but the agency on Tuesday denied allegations made by Carlson that it had spied on him “in an attempt to take this show off the air.”
“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 NSA said in a statement on Twitter.
“NSA has a foreign intelligence mission. We target foreign powers to generate insights on foreign activities that could harm the United States,” the agency added. “With limited exceptions (e.g. an emergency), NSA may not target a US citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting.”
Carlson on Monday accused the agency of monitoring his electronic communications and accessing some of his personal emails, citing information from a “whistleblower from within the U.S. government,” although he did not present evidence to back his claims.
The whistleblower had “repeated back to us information about a story we are working on that could have only come from my texts and emails,” Carlson said.
Responding to the NSA’s statement Tuesday, Carlson on his show called it “infuriatingly dishonest” and “an entire paragraph of lies written purely for the benefit of the intel community’s lackeys at CNN and MSNBC.”
“Last night on this show we made a very straightforward claim: NSA has read my private emails without my permission. Period. Tonight’s [NSA] statement does not deny that,” Carlson said.
The Epoch Times earlier reached out to Fox News and the White House for comment.
Isabel Van Brugen contributed to this report.