On Monday, news broke that former national security adviser Susan Rice requested to unmask the names of Donald Trump campaign officials in intelligence gathered last year. A discussion about Rice on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show Monday night quickly devolved into a shouting match over the legitimacy of allegations that Russia “hacked” last year’s presidential election to aid then-candidate Trump.
The segment began with Carlson and David Tafuri, a former State Department official in the Obama administration, going back and forth over why Rice would need to unmask the names of Trump officials.
Tafuri explained that the incidental collection of U.S. citizen information frequently happens and that often intelligence officials need to unmask a citizen’s identity to get the full scope of the intelligence. But Carlson wanted to know why, at a time when the Trump campaign had just won the Republican nomination and was starting to fight hard against Democrat Hillary Clinton, did Rice’s interest in intelligence concerning Trump officials suddenly go up.
Carlson pointed to a Monday report from Circa that said Rice’s interest in the intelligence with Trump officials accelerated throughout last year’s presidential election.
“That looks political to me,” he said. “Why in the world could she possibly be unmasking the names of people in the campaign against her preferred candidate?”
Tafuri disagreed with what Carlson was “insinuating” and countered that Rice most likely needed to unmask names to understand the scope of the intelligence so she could carry out the duties of her job. The former Obama official added that the entire discussion about spying goes back to the allegation that Russia “hacked” last year’s presidential election to help Trump win.
At that, Carlson had had enough.
“What’s this about? What’s this about?” Carlson asked. “We all assume we know Russia ‘hacked’ the election, and I’m just asking you: Why has not one person — not one and I do this every single night — characterized what exactly that means?”
“I’m getting very frustrated. I don’t know what it means to hack an election,” Carlson explained. “I don’t know what exactly they did to constitute a crime so severe that you’d have to spy on the Trump campaign to prove it.”
“Tucker, hacked into the DNC’s emails and they leaked those emails out in a strategic way to impact the election,” Tafuri responded, getting visibly angry.
But Carlson still wasn’t buying what Tafuri was trying to sell.
“Why don’t we get some evidence that any of this actually happened?” Carlson pressed. “Where’s the evidence?”
Tafuri reiterated his claim that the intelligence community, including FBI Director James Comey and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, have confirmed that Russia intervened in last year’s election.
“I have learned in 30 years of living here: don’t take it on faith, gets the facts. And I’ve been waiting on a single fact, just one,” Carlson shot back, also visibly frustrated.
“Give me one scintilla of evidence that the Russian government broke into John Podesta’s emails for the express purpose of getting Donald Trump elected president,” he pressed.
Tafuri, unable to offer any evidence, deflected and called for an independent investigation into the Russia allegations “to protect the sanctity of our democracy.”
Still, Carlson wanted evidence to suggest that it happened at all. “And what I’m saying, as a journalist and an American, is give me some evidence — or stop talking.”