Fox News host Tucker Carlson was seeking an interview with Putin around the time he accused the NSA of spying on him, a new report says

Tucker-Carlson
Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

  • Tucker Carlson sought an interview with Vladimir Putin before he accused the NSA of spying on him.
  • Carlson publicly accused the NSA of monitoring him as part of a plot to take his show off air.
  • The NSA later said in a statement that Carlson’s “allegation is untrue.”
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Fox News host Tucker Carlson was seeking an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin shortly before he accused the National Security Agency of spying on him, Axios reported Wednesday.

In late June, Carlson claimed the NSA was monitoring his Fox News show after he said a source tipped him off about it as part of a plot to take it off air.

Carlson said his source – “who is in a position to know” – repeated information for him and his team about a story they were 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 said during the June 28 segment. “Things like that should not happen in America. But unfortunately, they do happen. And in this case, they did happen.”

The federal agency later denied his claim, saying the Fox News host “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.” Carlson responded by calling the statement “infuriatingly dishonest.”

Around the time he made the spying claims, Carlson was in talks with US-based Kremlin intermediaries to secure up an interview with Putin, sources familiar with the conversations told Axios. The sources said US officials learned of Carlson seeking an interview with the Kremlin leader, and in turn, the Fox News host learned that the government was aware, thus fueling the basis of his spying accusation.

“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,” Carlson said in a statement to Axios.

Representatives from the NSA did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

A spokesperson for Fox News told Axios that the media outlet supports “any of our hosts pursuing interviews and stories free of government interference.”

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Body language expert says Putin’s lack of eye contact and tapping fingers showed impatience, while Biden was more open

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden sit as they wait to meet. Putin is looking down and to the side.
President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin meet for a summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021.

  • A communications expert watched Putin and Biden interacting for clues about how their summit went.
  • She told the BBC that the power balance seemed equal, though Biden was more eager to engage.
  • Putin’s tapping fingers and leaning-back pose gave the sense he wanted the summit to end, she said.
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A body language expert has said the body language of Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin reveals their attitude to the historic meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

Communications coach Mary Civiello told the BBC that although Wednesday’s meeting itself was closed to the public, the leaders’ interactions before they got to talking “actually said a lot.”

Civiello suggested that there was no clear power imbalance between the men, but that Putin seemed more impatient with proceedings than Biden.

Their first handshake of the summit was roughly equal in terms of the power dynamic, she said, with Biden being the first to reach over but with Putin making the approach on foot.

The moment they sat down before the meeting – where little was happening but cameras are shooting – is also revealing, Civiello said.

Most telling was a lack of eye contact between the two, she said, going on to comment on their sitting postures.

Putin adopted a familiar laid-back pose in his chair, legs apart, while Biden sat up, and at times turned more towards the Russian leader -“the kind of posture that would open oneself to conversing.”

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden facing each other at the doorway to the building where they are to meet
President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin meet for a summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021.

“Putin’s body language tells you: ‘whatever,'” she said.

She also noted Putin’s hands tapping the side of the chair, “‘just like, ‘when is this going to be over?'”

Looking back at how Putin has interacted with other leaders, like former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, or Donald Trump, Civiello noted that the Russian leader is pretty consistent in how he acts with them.

“It kind of sends a message: ‘Don’t expect this meeting to change anything much,'” she said.

Meanwhile, Biden’s pose matched what he has said about his policy position on the meeting – not exactly eager, Civiello said, but open to engagement.

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Fox News host Harris Faulkner complimented Vladimir Putin for answering questions for longer than Joe Biden – before the US president even spoke

Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner reacts to Russian President Vladimir Putin's solo press conference in Geneva, Switzerland. A chyron underneath her reads "Awaiting Biden comments after Putin's remarks."
Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner.

  • A Fox News host remarked that Vladimir Putin is more accessible to the press than Joe Biden.
  • Harris Faulkner said Putin took questions for longer than Biden and VP Kamala Harris combined.
  • Her observation did not factor in Biden’s press conference right after Putin’s.
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Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner said that Vladimir Putin gave more time to the press than Joe Biden, even though the US president had not yet delivered his solo press conference on Wednesday.

“We saw that President of Russia answering more questions in front of the media, longer than I can remember either the current president or his vice president combined in terms of time and number of questions,” Faulkner said.

Her guest, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, agreed before criticizing Putin for drawing false equivalencies between the US and Russia.

Putin, who has been accused by the international community of killing journalists and has been linked to several assassinations, answered questions from the foreign press before Biden on Wednesday.

Faulkner stopped short of explicitly praising Putin, saying she was choosing her words “closely and carefully.”

On her daytime show, “Outnumbered,” Faulkner has frequently criticized Biden for not taking more questions from reporters and not doing enough interviews.

She also criticized Biden for not appearing alongside Putin as former President Donald Trump had. Pompeo had previously insisted that Biden follow Trump’s lead with a joint press conference, and repeated that message during his Wednesday appearance on Fox.

Faulkner returned to the issue of Biden and Putin appearing separately, saying: “Today, when you see these two leaders separate after meeting for three hours and more than 15 minutes, and you see them come out, their messaging will be very different.”

“Does his message get muddled, thereby the message of the American people?” Faulkner said of Biden going second.

“We blew it,” Pompeo said.

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Putin justifies imprisoning Navalny by demonizing the Black Lives Matter movement

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds his earpiece while listening to a translation of a question from an American reporter at a news conference.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin justified his authoritarian tactics on Wednesday.
  • ABC News reporter Rachel Scott asked him why his opponents end up dead or in prison.
  • Putin cited Black Lives Matter and the Capitol riot as reasons why he cracks down on dissent.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday mentioned both the Black Lives Matter movement and the January 6 Capitol insurrection as justification for the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny and the Kremlin’s remarkable crackdown on dissent.

Putin was asked by ABC News reporter Rachel Scott why so many of his opponents end up dead or in prison. “What are you so afraid of?” she asked.

The longtime Russian leader and former KGB officer bristled at the question initially.

Putin, appearing solo before President Joe Biden spoke to the press, lumped the Black Lives Matter movement in with looting and violence that broke out at some protests in the US last summer.

“We saw disorder, destruction, violations of law. We feel sympathy with the USA, but we don’t want that to happen on our territory,” Putin said through an English translator.

Putin also justified his government’s crackdown on dissent by comparing it to the US government’s prosecution of January 6 rioters, which is a talking point he’s reiterated a number of times in recent days that echoes GOP efforts to whitewash deadly insurrection.

As for who is killing whom or are throwing whom in jail, people came to the US Congress with political demands,” Putin said. “Over 400 people had criminal charges placed on them. They face prison sentences of up to 28, maybe even 25 years. They’re being called domestic terrorists.”

Biden did not buy Putin’s analogy when he spoke to the press later in the day.

“I think that’s a ridiculous comparison,” Biden said of Putin citing the Jan. 6 insurrection and Black Lives Matter.

The Russian president has made a habit out of deflecting to criticism of the US when pressed about his record on human rights. He also repeatedly engages in whataboutism, and tends to accuse the US and its Western allies of hypocrisy when his repressive leadership style is scrutinized.

Putin during Wednesday’s press conference continued this trend as he addressed questions about Navalny, refusing to even say the anti-corruption campaigner’s name. The Russian leader simply referred to Navalny, his most prominent critic, as “this person.”

Navalny was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok last August, which nearly killed him, and was subsequently taken to Germany for treatment. Putin, whose critics have often died in violent or suspicious ways, has been widely accused of poisoning Navalny. The Biden administration issued sanctions against Russian officials in March over Navalny’s poisoning.

Upon returning to Moscow in January, Navalny was promptly arrested and subsequently sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for violating parole – including while receiving treatment in Germany – from a 2014 embezzlement conviction denounced as politically motivated by top human rights groups.

Navalny’s imprisonment has prompted mass protests in Russia, but hasn’t slowed down Putin’s ruthless effort to squash dissent. Last week, Navalny’s top aide told Insider that Putin was “dumb” to put the Kremlin critic behind bars because it turned him into a symbol for people to rally behind.

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Hillary Clinton says Republicans have been flirting with Putin’s authoritarianism by denying 2020 election results

Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin
Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin during a meeting in March 2010.

  • Hillary Clinton said the GOP is doing Putin’s work for him by denying the 2020 election results.
  • Clinton said Republicans have been flirting with Putin’s authoritarian model of governance.
  • Her comments came as Biden met with Putin in Geneva.
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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday said there are people within the US who doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s work for him by continuing to cast doubt on the results of the 2020 election. Her comments came as President Joe Biden held a historic summit with Putin in Geneva, Switzerland.

“We never thought we had to worry about domestic enemies. We never thought we had to worry about people who didn’t believe in our democracy,” Clinton said. “Sadly, what we’ve seen over the last 4 years, and particularly since our election in 2020, is that we have people within our own country who are doing Putin’s work … to sow distrust, to sow divisiveness, to give aid and comfort to those in our country who, for whatever reason, are being not only disruptive but very dangerous.”

Biden is aware of the problem, Clinton said, and knows he has to work to do on “both fronts.”

“There has been … a big flirtation by some on the right in the Republican Party with the Putin model. They really resonate to the authoritarianism,” Clinton said. “They find that kind of macho approach to everything quite attractive.”

Clinton, who’s also met with Putin on behalf of the US, said the Russian leader is “the great disruptor” and “has a clear mission to undermine democracies, first and foremost, the United States.”

The former secretary of state said Biden needs to make clear to Putin that “ridiculing the United States, undermining us, allowing – as well as overseeing attacks – on our election structure, on our energy delivery system, on so much else, has to stop.”

Clinton said she’s confident that Biden will be far more assertive with Putin than former President Donald Trump, and that she hopes the president will address issues like nuclear arms agreements and cyber attacks in his summit with the Russian president.

“We don’t have Trump being, in effect, a spokesperson for Putin any longer,” Clinton said. “We have a president who will stand up and defend American interests.”

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Biden and Putin pose for photos ahead of intense US-Russia summit

putin biden summit
Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden shake hands at the Villa la Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, ahead of a US-Russia summit on June 16, 2021.

  • Biden and Putin are meeting on Wednesday for the first time since Biden took office.
  • The pair shook hands at the start of their summit in Geneva, Switzerland..
  • Both sides said their countries’ relations were at a low point and that they expect little from the meeting.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin has posed for photos at the start of their summit in Geneva, Switzerland.

The two leaders shook hands outside the Villa la Grange around 1:25 p.m. local time after welcome remarks by Swiss President Guy Parmelin.

NBC News has footage of the moment the leaders met:

It is the first meeting of the leaders since Biden took office this year, and expectations are that the meeting will be tense and with little tangible progress.

A senior US official told reporters that “We’re not expecting a big set of deliverables out of this meeting” and Putin’s foreign advisor said “I’m not sure that any agreements will be reached,” Reuters reported.

biden putin summit
Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden prepare to shake handsbefore the US-Summit at the Villa la Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 16, 2021.

Putin said on Friday that the US-Russia relationship had “deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years.”

Biden also called Putin a “killer” earlier this year.

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Fiona Hill says Russia’s hackers ‘already declared war’ on the US and want to prove they’re a ‘major cyber force’

fiona hill
Fiona Hill.

  • Fiona Hill told FT that Russia “declared war quite a long time ago in the information sphere.”
  • Hill’s comments came ahead of Biden’s highly anticipated summit with Putin in Geneva.
  • After recent hacks and cyberattacks linked to Russia, cybersecurity is poised to be a major topic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US should expect Russia to ramp up its cyberstrikes as the Kremlin seeks to sow chaos and undermine democracy via coordinated disinformation campaigns, Fiona Hill said in comments to the Financial Times ahead of President Joe Biden’s highly anticipated summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday.

Hill, the top Russia expert in the White House under President Donald Trump from 2017 to 2019, told FT, “The Russians have effectively already declared war quite a long time ago in the information sphere.”

“They’ve been trying to prove that they are a major cyber force – they want to create a wartime scenario so then they can sit down and agree some kind of truce with us,” Hill said.

Hill said Russia was ruthless in its pursuit of intelligence and indifferent to any damage inflicted in the process.

“The Russians take great pride in their novel ways of getting at you … in many respects it’s a continuation of the Cold War,” Hill said. “They don’t really care about the harm they could cause.”

The US has accused Russia of interfering in recent elections, including via the use of “troll farms” like the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency. The Internet Research Agency in 2016 “used social media to wage an information warfare campaign designed to spread disinformation and societal division in the United States,” a report by the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said.

“Masquerading as Americans, these operatives used targeted advertisements, intentionally falsified news articles, self-generated content, and social media platform tools to interact with and attempt to deceive tens of millions of social media users in the United States,” the report added.

The US in 2018 indicted 13 people associated with the Internet Research Agency, alleging they violated “US criminal laws in order to interfere with US elections and political processes.”

The US intelligence community concluded Putin directed organizations to interfere in US elections (in both 2016 and 2020) to boost Donald Trump’s chances of winning, though the Kremlin has rejected these allegations.

Beyond election interference, the US also accused Russia of involvement in last year’s massive SolarWinds hack. The Biden administration in April imposed sanctions on over 30 Russian entities over the SolarWinds hack and the Kremlin’s interference in US elections.

The State Department in March also expressed concern that Russia was been behind online disinformation directed at undermining confidence in COVID-19 vaccines in the US.

Meanwhile, there’s also growing alarm in the US over ransomware gangs operating out of Russia with impunity. The FBI attributed two recent cyberattacks – one that shut down a major US oil pipeline and another that disrupted production for the largest meat supplier – to Russia-linked ransomware gangs.

Biden is poised to address all these concerns over Russia’s cyberactivities in his upcoming meeting with Putin, which comes as US-Russia relations are at a historic low. Experts have said Biden is likely to emerge from the summit empty-handed.

“Analysts are struggling to understand what concrete outcomes President Biden will achieve in return for giving Vladimir Putin such an important international spotlight in return for Russia’s increased malign behavior,” Heather Conley, a former senior official for European issues in the State Department under President George W. Bush, told Insider last week.

“If there aren’t clear deliverables (and both sides have been downplaying outcomes), I think criticism will grow that this high-level meeting ultimately benefited the Kremlin,” Conley added.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin laughs at a reporter who asked if he was a ‘killer’

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks via video call during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020.

  • When asked by a reporter whether he’s a killer, Russian President Vladimir Putin laughed.
  • President Joe Biden has previously referred to Putin directly as a killer.
  • Many Kremlin dissenters have been killed and several others, including prominent critic Alexei Navalny, have been poisoned.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Russian President Vladimir Putin laughed in an interview with a reporter who asked him whether he was a killer.

NBC News reporter Keir Simmons asked Putin about accusations that he had ordered the assassinations of dissenters. Alexei Navalny, for example, claims he was poisoned by the Kremlin, which has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident. Putin once posited that Navalny had poisoned himself, an idea Navalny mocked.

Putin’s opponents have routinely been poisoned. Novichok, the same nerve agent Navalny ingested, had previously been used to poison other Kremlin dissidents. Some of Putin’s critics have been killed.

“When President Trump was told you are a killer, he didn’t deny it. When President Biden was asked whether he believes you are a killer, he said, ‘I do.’ Mr. President, are you a killer?” Simmons asked Putin.

Putin laughed at the question.

“Over my tenure, I’ve gotten used to attacks from all kinds of angles and from all kinds of areas under all kinds of pretext and reasons and at different caliber and fierceness, and none of it surprises me,” Putin said in response.

“I’ve heard dozens of such accusations,” he said, sidestepping the question. “Sentiments in terms of who calls somebody what kind of labels – this is not something I worry about in the least.”

Simmons then read off a list of Russian critics who had been killed and asked Putin whether they were all “coincidences.”

“I don’t want to come across as being rude, but this look like some kind of indigestion, except that it’s verbal indigestion,” Putin said, laughing again at Simmons’ question. “You mentioned many individuals who did suffer and perished at different points in time for various reasons at the hands of different individuals.”

One of the critics Simmons listed “worked in my administration,” Putin said. “I liked him very much. I regret to this day that he is not with us.”

“As far as the others,” he continued, “we’ve found some of the criminals who committed those crimes. Some are in prison. And we’re prepared to continue to work in this mode.”

Former President Donald Trump has previously brushed off allegations characterizing Putin as a killer, and he’s also stayed quiet on Navalny’s claim that the Russian president poisoned him.

President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has outright called Putin a killer.

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Putin says Trump is an ‘extraordinary’ and ‘talented individual’ who is an outsider to the US political establishment, unlike ‘career man’ Biden

Trump, Putin, Biden
Russian President Vladimir Putin praised former President Donald Trump in an exclusive interview with NBC News.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin told NBC News that Trump is “extraordinary” and “talented.”
  • He said that Trump comes from outside the US political establishment, whereas Biden is a “career man.”
  • Putin added that he hopes that Biden is less “impulse-based” than Trump.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin heaped praise on former President Trump in an exclusive interview with NBC News on Friday.

“Well even now, I believe that former US president Trump is an extraordinary individual, talented individual, otherwise, he would not have become US president,” Putin told NBC’s Keir Simmons.

He noted that Trump is a controversial figure, and added that he is more of a political outsider than President Joe Biden.

“He is a colorful individual. You may like him or not. But he didn’t come from the US establishment, he had not been part of big-time politics before, and some like it, some don’t like it, but that is a fact,” the Russian president added.

Putin called Biden a “career man” who “has spent virtually his entire adulthood” in politics. Biden, 78, was first elected to the US Senate in 1972, aged 30.

Read more: With Trump in debt, intelligence and security sources fear foreign spies may target him with offers of money

Putin told NBC News that there were pros and cons to Biden’s presidency.

“There are some advantages, some disadvantages, but there will not be any impulse-based movements on behalf of the sitting US president,” he told NBC News.

The US-Russian relationship has soured in recent months. Putin told NBC News that it is at its “lowest point in recent years.”

Biden and Putin are officially scheduled to meet in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 16.

The two world leaders will “discuss the full range of pressing issues, as we seek to restore predictability and stability to the U.S.-Russia relationship,” according to a White House statement.

On Thursday, Trump asked Biden to give Putin his “warmest regards.”

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Russia officially outlaws Navalny’s political network a week before Putin’s meeting with Biden

alexei navalny
Alexei Navalny appears in a video published by his team on January 18, 2021.

  • A Moscow court banned Alexei Navalny’s political network by labeling it as extremist.
  • Navalny’s associates are now barred from running for office and could face prison time.
  • The move sends a chilling message to dissidents ahead of the highly anticipated Biden-Putin summit.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Moscow court on Wednesday outlawed Alexei Navalny’s political network by dubbing it extremist, in a remarkable escalation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on dissent.

The ruling came just a week before a highly anticipated meeting between the Russian leader and President Joe Biden. It sends a clear message to Biden that his criticism of Russia over the treatment of Navalny and other dissidents won’t deter Putin’s campaign to crush his opponents.

As a result of the ruling and extremism designation, Navalny’s associates are barred from seeking public office – Russia has parliamentary elections in September – and could now be prosecuted and face prison time, per the Associated Press.

The ruling also comes less than a week after Putin signed a law barring members of “extremist” groups from running for office, which critics said was a blatant effort to squash legitimate competition and prevent Navalny’s allies from running in the upcoming elections. Putin signed the law on Friday, which was also Navalny’s 45th birthday.

Navalny’s political network, which primarily focused on investigating and exposing corruption, disbanded in late April in anticipation of the ruling. Around that time, Russia’s financial watchdog Rosfinmonitoring blacklisted the network by labeling it extremist, putting it on a list alongside groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda. The lawyer representing the network, Ivan Pavlov, was also arrested in late April.

This is a breaking news story and will continue to be updated.

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