Trump ‘never told’ about Chinese balloons by Pentagon: Congressman
Former President Donald Trump was reportedly unaware of several spy balloons that passed over the United States during his tenure, according to Rep. Michael Waltz, a Republican from Florida.
In light of last week’s incident in which a suspected Chinese spy balloon was spotted in US airspace and ultimately shot down over the Atlantic Ocean, Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder said told a news conference on Thursday that several such craft had been spotted in recent years. including during the Trump administration. Trump himself, as well as several of his former aides, have strenuously denied these claims.
Waltz, who represents Florida’s 6th congressional district, took to Twitter on Sunday and said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s office told him that Chinese spy balloons had indeed been spotted in recent years. He also added that Trump-era national security officials claimed they were never made aware of the sightings.
“The Office of the Secretary of Defense has informed my office that several Chinese balloon incidents have occurred over the past several years, including over Florida,” Waltz originally tweeted. “Why weren’t they shot?”
The congressman continued in another tweet, “And according to multiple Trump Admin national security officials – they were never made aware of these intrusions by the Pentagon.”
During an interview with Fox News Digital on Sunday, Trump insisted that no such balloon had been spotted during his tenure in the White House, and also blasted President Joe’s handling of the situation. Biden as “incompetent.”
“That never happened to us under the Trump administration and if it did, we would have shot it down immediately,” the former president said. “That’s misinformation.”
Trump made a similar claim in a post on his Truth Social account on Sunday.
“China had too much respect for ‘TRUMP’ for that to happen, and it NEVER happened. JUST FALSE MISINFORMATION!” the read message.
When contacted to comment on Waltz’s claims by Newsweeka spokesperson for Donald Trump referred to comments recently made to other media by former Trump administration officials.
John Bolton, who previously served as national security adviser to the Trump administration, also told Fox News Digital on Sunday that he could “say with 100% certainty” that no balloons had been spotted while he served in the White House. He added that he had not heard of any such incidents after leaving the post.
Mark Esper, a former Secretary of Defense, told CNN on Friday that Ryder’s claim about previous sightings “surprised” him.
“I don’t remember anyone walking into my office or reading anything that said the Chinese had a surveillance balloon over the United States,” he said.
Newsweek also reached out to the Department of Defense for comment, but declined to comment on questions about congressional correspondence.
Updated 2/5/2023, 6:34 PM ET: This article has been updated to reflect responses from representatives of Donald Trump and the Department of Defense.