The revelation that the Tucker Carlson email around which the NSA spying controversy has swirled was part of an attempt by Tucker to arrange to interview Vladimir Putin makes a lot of things more clear.
First of all, the likely scenario now is that, as NSA says, Tucker was not targeted. Rather, Tucker's email came to the attention of analysts because it was directed to someone close to Putin--someone who would be a key intermediary in getting any interview ball rolling. The target wasn't Tucker, per se, but Russian nationals, particularly those close to the Russian leadership.
So far, so good. There's no problem with this. That's well within normal national security bounds.
Where the problems start is with the decision by the Zhou regime to have its agents--NSA, FBI, whoever--leak the contents of Tucker's email to various regime proxy media outlets, i.e., the usual liberal suspects. The strategy, as Tucker explains it, seems to have been that these regime proxies would leak hints that Tucker is somehow a Russian agent. The idea would be that the interview with Putin was to be part of a Russian disinformation op targeting "our democracy"--meaning, Dem political interests. The Dems were probably also trying to devise ways to tie this in to their Domestic War on "Terror" via "Russian hacking".
Even worse, the leaks might hint that Tucker is personally controlled by Putin--just like Trump, doncha know. The Dems and their media proxies haven't yet taken to referring to Putin as Vlad The Impaler, but short of that Putin is the all purpose Boogey Man that Dems think they can use to hoodwink conservatives, destroy Tucker's credibility, and keep their own base enmeshed in a world of conspiracy theories.
So, where do things stand?
Obviously we have a glimpse in this of just how concerned Dems have become over Tucker's standing with the American public. The decision to take this risky step could not have been lightly decided upon. Not unless Zhou himself was in charge, but in that case his handlers would have stepped in. The presumption has to be that Zhou's handlers were involved at every step of the process.
From a legal standpoint, the Zhou regime is on very thin ice. The Executive Branch's broad national security surveillance powers under the constitution--powers that the federal courts have always affirmed, despite later institution of the FISA regime--were never intended for domestic political use. The argument that Tucker is an agent in a foreign disinformation op targeting the American public is, factually, pretty threadbare. This is especially the case given that key First Amendment rights are directly implicated. Not only Tucker's personal Free Speech rights but also the freedom of the "press" stand to be chilled by this type of covert government activity, utilizing highly intrusive powers that are reserved for national security matters. This involvement of the Intel agencies in domestic politics and media control is exactly the type of activity that should be controlled by prosecution under theories of attacks on the constitutional rights of citizens.
It seems to me that Tucker has played this exactly right, especially by seizing the initiative and getting the jump on the Zhou regime's plans. Key is that Tucker appears to have a source within the regime's media circle of influence--not just within NSA. That means that if this matter should ever wind up in court, Tucker might well be in a position to prove the actual leak, as well as the anti-constitutional motive for the leak. Further, Tucker actually possesses the text of his own email. He can choose when to reveal it, how much--if anything--to redact, and so forth. That's his ace in the hole. By seizing the initiative Tucker has changed the dynamics of this tawdry plot against him. If and when he reveals his email, it will not be a response to some ginned up regime/media "outrage". He will be on the attack, rather than on the defensive.
All in all, Tucker has done very well by seizing the moral high ground. My guess is that this could well turn out to be an own goal by the Zhou regime and its IC and media proxies. Tucker will end up with enhanced standing before the American public and the authoritarian designs of the Dems will be further confirmed and exposed. Senate and House appearances by NSA and FBI officials could become very messy. Trump will also weigh in at some point. Could be a very happy ending.
UPDATE: I know, I'm a bit behind things, but ...
Tucker did a brilliant job last night: