Trump Has Subpoenaed Fox News for Tucker’s Unaired Jan. 6 Interview

Photo: Jason Koerner/Getty Images
Eriq Gardner
July 31, 2023

As the possibility of Jan. 6-related criminal charges hover over Donald Trump, the former president has subpoenaed Fox News for Tucker Carlson’s unaired interview with Steven Sund, the former U.S. Capitol Police chief, along with any communications about that interview, according to information I’ve obtained. Trump is seeking the tapes and messages as part of his defense against a lawsuit filed by seven police officers who sustained injuries that fateful day. A federal judge has already rejected Trump’s argument that the First Amendment shields him from liability in the civil suit, which has now proceeded to the discovery phase.

Remarkably, Fox News is fighting Trump’s demands. After receiving the subpoena, the network’s attorneys sent a response letter to the former president, arguing that the materials are shielded from compelled disclosure under reporter’s privilege. Additionally, the network challenged whether the interview was really “crucial” to his defense and suggested that he may be able to obtain the information more directly, by deposing Sund, for example. Carlson, who lost his Fox News show before the interview with Sund could air, recently disclosed during a podcast with Russell Brand that Sund had claimed the Jan. 6 crowd was riddled with federal agents. In other words, Trump might wish to use the interview in an attempt to deflect blame from himself.

As right-wing buzz about the involvement of covert federal agents on Jan. 6 gets louder, Trump could theoretically bring a court motion that would force Fox News to comply with the subpoena. That would put the network in an uncomfortable spot, not only because it regularly courts Trump voters, but also because the network was recently hit with a defamation lawsuit from Ray Epps, a Trump supporter who alleges that he was falsely tarred by Carlson as a federal agent who incited the Jan. 6 crowd. A Fox spokesperson declined to comment about these developments.