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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Did the NSA Spy on Devin Nunes?

'Nunes was the member of Congress who spearheaded an investigation into whether the NSA was spying on Carlson...'

(Ken Silva, Headline USAFormer Fox News host Tucker Carlson recently said that the “head” of the House Intelligence Committee once told him that the National Security Agency was reading the congressman’s texts.

Evidence suggests that Carlson was speaking of former congressman Devin Nunes, who chaired the committee at the start of former President Donald Trump’s term and played an integral role in investigating—and ultimately exposing—the FBI’s Russia-collusion hoax.

After his California district was redrawn to force him into a primary, Nunes left Congress to accept a role as CEO of Trump’s Truth Social platform.

Carlson’s statement comes from an interview he did with former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

“He had been drinking and said, ‘We have to talk about this.’ I said, ‘I’ll text you,’ and he said, ‘I can’t text … because the NSA reads my texts,’” Carlson told Gabbard.

“I said, ‘You’re the head guy of the intel oversight committee. You’re their boss. He said, ‘Yeah, well they’re still spying on me.’”

Carlson did not identify the specific member he was talking to, but the list of House Intelligence Committee chairs over the last decade is not long: Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio (2023-present); Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., (2019-2023); Nunes (2015-2019); and former Rep. Michael Rogers, R-Mich. (2011-2015).

Headline USA contacted each of these officials. All of them but Nunes denied speaking to Carlson about the NSA.

“It was not Mr. Rogers who told Tucker Carlson that,” said Rogers’s executive assistant, Michelle Miller.

“To answer your question: No,” said Turner’s communications director, Jeff Naft.

“It was not Adam!” said Schiff’s press secretary, Maryam Ahmed.

There is another compelling reason to believe that Nunes was the one who told Carlson about the NSA: Nunes was the member of Congress who spearheaded an investigation into whether the NSA was spying on Carlson.

That investigation came in 2021, after Carlson said he had received evidence that the NSA has been reading his communications.

“A whistleblower, 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,” Carlson said at the time, explaining that the whistleblower told him the NSA tapped his phone because he sought an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

An internal NSA review reportedly confirmed that the NSA had monitored Carlson’s communications.

“The nation’s top electronic spy agency found that Carlson was mentioned in communications between third parties and his name was subsequently revealed through ‘unmasking,’ a process in which relevant government officials can request the identities of American citizens in intelligence reports to be divulged provided there is an official reason,” The Record reported in July 2021.

Along with probing the NSA over Carlson, Nunes has also been a thorn in the agency’s ability to renew its controversial Section 702 spy powers, which allows the U.S. government to conduct warrantless surveillance on Americans when they’re communicating with foreign targeted outside the U.S. for intelligence purposes. Section 702 is set to expire by the end of this year unless renewed by lawmakers.

Nunes wouldn’t be the first intel chief to be spied on by the U.S. government.

When Dianne Feinstein, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, launched an investigation into the CIA torturing Muslims in the wake of 9/11, she soon found that the CIA was monitoring her committee.

“I have grave concerns that the CIA’s search may well have violated the separation-of-powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution, including the speech-and-debate clause,” Feinstein said in 2014. “Besides the constitutional implications, the CIA search may also have violated the Fourth Amendment [and] the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.”

The NSA also found itself at the center of a spying scandal involving incoming Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. After the agency intercepted conversations between Flynn and Russian diplomat Sergey Kislyak in December 2016, at least 16 top Obama administration officials illegally unmasked Flynn’s identity from the NSA report.

They subsequently used that knowledge to leak to the media about the report and then accused Flynn of violating the archaic Logan Act, a 1799 law that prohibits civilians from conducting U.S. diplomacy.

Under those pretenses, the FBI opened an investigation into Flynn and ensnared him in a perjury trap that ultimately led to his forced resignation within weeks of the new presidency.

Nunes denounced the unmasking scandal after it became public knowledge.

“There is no justification for the exorbitant number of times Michael Flynn’s name was unmasked, briefed to senior Obama officials, and even spread outside the FBI in unmasked form,” he said. “The Flynn leak was a major crime, yet even after this investigation, no one was held accountable.”

Nunes, who retired from Congress at the end of 2021, did not respond to multiple messages over the last several days seeking comment. Carlson, for his part, could not be reached for comment, while the NSA has yet to respond to an email query about the matter.

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.
Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report. 

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