“It’s Disinformation”: Trump, Former Officials Slam Anonymous Report Of Chinese Spy Balloons Under Their Watch
Former President Donald Trump lashed out at a report from an anonymous US Defense Department official who said over the weekend that spy balloons transited over US territory while he was president.
“This never happened. It would have never happened,” Trump told Fox News on Sunday, adding that the Chinese regime “respected us greatly” under his watch.
“It never happened with us under the Trump administration and if it did, we would have shot it down immediately,” Trump added.
Trump said the Biden administration is spreading this because “they look so bad, as usual.“
“They are incompetent,” he said. -Fox News
Trump also posted to Truth Social:
So if these anonymous reports are legit, the woke military generals’ version of events is that they have 100% allowed Red China spy balloons to traverse the US for years, not even bothering to inform political leadership, and only shot down this one because the public noticed? OK
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) February 5, 2023
Trump’s former Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, also says it never happened.
FORMER DIR. OF NAT’L INTELLIGENCE: There were no Chinese spy balloon incursions under President Trump’s watch.
Where are the videos? Where are the pictures? Where are pilot reports? They have no evidence because it never happened. pic.twitter.com/Bnv277L297
— Election Wizard ?? (@ElectionWiz) February 5, 2023
As did Richard Grenell.:
Biden’s DoD is shamelessly using an anonymous source to say that Chinese balloons flew over the US under Trump – and the Trump team allowed it.
It is a lie. We never heard this – ever.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) February 5, 2023
“I don’t know of any balloon flights by any power over the United States during my tenure, and I’d never heard of any of that occurring before I joined in 2018,” said former US National Security adviser John Bolton.
Says emphatically “not during my tenure” pic.twitter.com/Ml99jgVLM7
— Carey (@SeriusBall) February 5, 2023
More via the Epoch Times,
Other Officials Respond
Mark Esper, who served under Trump as secretary of defense, refuted claims about balloons flying over the United States under the previous administration.
“I don’t ever recall somebody coming into my office or reading anything that the Chinese had a surveillance balloon above the United States,” he told CNN. “I would remember that for sure.”
* * *
“Unequivocally, I have never been briefed on the issue,” added Robert O’Brien, who served as White House national security adviser under Trump. “It never came up,” he said. “If a balloon had come up, we would have known. Someone in the intelligence community would have known, and it would have bubbled up to me to brief the president,” former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell told Fox.
“It’s not true. I can refute it,” former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe also said. “The American people can refute it for themselves. Do you remember during the Trump administration, when photographers on the ground and commercial airline pilots were talking about a spy balloon over the United States that people could look up and see, even with the naked eye, and that a media that hated Donald Trump wasn’t reporting?”
What Was Claimed
A top Defense official, who was not identified, said Saturday that the Chinese regime’s “surveillance balloons transited the continental United States briefly at least three times during the prior administration and once that we know of at the beginning of this administration, but never for this duration of time,” according to a transcript released by the Pentagon.
“We spoke directly with Chinese officials through multiple channels, but rather than address their intrusion into our airspace, the [Chinese regime] put out an explanation that lacked any credibility,” the official said.
On Saturday, officials said President Joe Biden issued the order but had wanted the balloon downed even earlier on Wednesday. He was advised that the best time for the operation would be when it was over water, U.S. officials said. Military officials determined that bringing it down over land from an altitude of 60,000 feet would pose an undue risk to people on the ground.
The giant white orb was spotted Saturday morning over the Carolinas as it approached the Atlantic coast. At about 2:39 p.m. EST, an F-22 fighter jet fired a missile at the balloon, puncturing it while it was about 6 nautical miles off the coast near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, senior defense officials said.
Sun, 02/05/2023 – 15:30