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Sen. Rand Paul. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is requesting an investigation into allegations by Tucker Carlson that the National Security Agency was spying on him, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The senator sent a letter to Gen. Paul Nakasone of the National Security Agency, casting doubt on the NSA’s public denial of spying on Carlson and defending the Fox News host as a journalist who should be protected by the First Amendment.

Between the lines: Paul, who sits on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, wrote that he is “open-minded” to believe the NSA may be telling the truth.

  • However, he argues a “long train of abuses” committed by the agency must elicit more than a “carefully worded” tweet of denial to be trusted.
  • Paul requests the agency answer specific questions, including whether it will investigate if Carlson’s allegations are true.
  • He asks for lawful justification of any unmasking if it, indeed, occurred.

The backstory: Carlson recently alleged on his show that his identity was “unmasked” and leaked as he was seeking an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

  • He said earlier the NSA was monitoring his emails, prompting a rare public denial from the agency.
  • It's unclear why Carlson, or his source, would think any media outreach to Putin would be the basis for NSA surveillance or a motive to have his show canceled, Axios’ Jonathan Swan wrote last week.

Be smart: Fox’s lawyers and a federal judge have argued in the past that in his role as a show host, Carlson’s words should not be taken as fact — the bedrock for journalists and the First Amendment protections they claim.

Go deeper

Pelosi's back-to-school math problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may need votes from an unlikely source — the Republican Party — if she hopes to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill by next Monday, as she's promised Democratic centrists.

Why it matters: With at least 20 progressives threatening to vote against the $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill, centrist members are banking on more than 10 Republicans to approve the bill.

By the numbers: Haitian emigration

Expand chart
Data: CBP; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The number of Haitians crossing the U.S.-Mexico border had been rising even before their country's president was assassinated in July and the island was struck by an earthquake a month later.

Why it matters: A spike during the past few weeks — leaving thousands waiting in a makeshift camp under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas — has prompted a crackdown and deportations by the Biden administration.

Biden's communication headaches

President Biden stands with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit in June. Photo: Patrick Semansky/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Boris Johnson told reporters on his way to the U.N. General Assembly on Sunday night he didn't believe it was likely that the U.S. would agree to lift its ban on vaccinated foreign travelers this week. Hours later, the White House did exactly that.

Why it matters: For the second time in less than a week, a major U.S. foreign policy decision by the Biden administration appears to have caught one of its closest allies by surprise. And neither was the first time, either.