According to Biden Defense Department officials, Chinese spy balloons entered American airspace three times during former President Trump’s tenure. Still, no one on Trump’s civilian national security team was ever apprised of the incursions. One possible reason for that, former Trump officials are allegedly speculating, is because then-Secretary of Defense General James Mattis didn’t trust Trump with the intelligence.
On Sunday, Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), tweeted that Pentagon officials had informed his office that “several Chinese balloon incidents have happened in the past few years – including over Florida.” Waltz questioned why the balloons weren’t shot down, and why the Trump White House was not informed.
“Why weren’t they shot down?” asked Waltz, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. The congressman noted that several Trump Administration national security officials have stated “they were never informed of these intrusions by the Pentagon.”
And according to several Trump Admin national security officials – they were never informed of these intrusions by the Pentagon.
— Rep. Mike Waltz (@michaelgwaltz) February 5, 2023
Those former Trump officials include Trump’s Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Acting DNI Ric Grenell, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, and National Security Adviser, John Bolton.
“I can refute it. It didn’t happen,” Ratcliffe said on Fox News’s Sunday Morning Futures. “Every time something goes wrong in the Biden administration, there’s one of two responses. They either find a way to blame the Trump administration, or they try and find a way to say the Trump administration did it too,” he added.
Grenell took to Twitter Sunday to blast Biden’s Department of Defense for shamelessly lying about the alleged Trump-era incursions.
“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,” Grenell tweeted. It is a lie. “We never heard this – ever,” he continued. Grenell said Congress should force Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to come clean about what happened and chastised Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. “Shame on @JakeSullivan46,” he tweeted.
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
“This never happened. It would have never happened,” Trump told Fox News on Sunday.
On Truth Social, Trump called the whole situation “a disgrace.”
“The Chinese Balloon situation is a disgrace, just like the Afghanistan horror show, and everything else surrounding the grossly incompetent Biden Administration,” Trump wrote. “They are only good at cheating in elections, and disinformation—and now they are putting out that a Balloon was put up by China during the Trump Administration, in order to take the “heat” off the slow moving Biden fools. China had too much respect for ‘TRUMP’ for this to have happened, and it NEVER did. JUST FAKE DISINFORMATION!”
Biden officials told Politico the previous breaches were only recently discovered, however.
“This information was discovered after the prior administration left. The intelligence community is prepared to offer key officials from the Trump administration briefings on [China’s] surveillance program,” one official claimed. That official, along with several others, “asked not to be named in order to discuss sensitive information.”
One of the Trump-era balloons hovered over Guam, according to two U.S. officials. And in 2020, the intelligence community assessed that much smaller balloons detected off the coast of Virginia were Chinese radar-jamming devices, according to a former senior DoD official.
Chinese spy balloons were also previously spotted over Texas and Florida, according to reports.
Biden administration officials offered to brief the former Trump officials on the supposedly newly discovered intelligence, according to Politico. It was not clear how they would have learned of those events so long after they happened.
Seven days after it entered U.S. airspace, the U.S. military on Saturday finally shot down the latest Chinese spy balloon to breach the U.S.
In recent days, conservative media, Republican lawmakers and former Trump officials have ripped Joe Biden for waiting so long to shoot down the balloon.
Washington Times national security correspondent Bill Gertz tweeted Monday that “only fools believe” the Biden regime’s official story.
“Only fools believe the delay in the shootdown was fear of debris,” Gertz wrote. “Biden was trying to salvage his neo-appeasement policy by keeping balloon incursion secret so [Sec. of State] Blinken could prostrate himself in Beijing.”
According to Politico, DoD officials are suggesting that because the Trump era incursions were minor, the balloons’ presence in the United States would not have been brought to the attention of Trump’s national security team.
But the difference between past instances and the one from last week, Defense Department officials said, is that those balloons never stayed above U.S. territory for a significant period of time. When pressed for specifics, such as the date, location and duration of those instances, Biden administration officials refused to provide them to POLITICO, citing the classified nature of that information.
Some officials did speak in generalities, however. DoD tracks “hundreds” of balloons every day, but they are typically not deemed a threat. Their presence close to or over the United States would not be brought to the attention of senior leaders unless their behavior was “completely out of the ordinary, like this one,” said one senior Pentagon official.
On Fox Business Monday morning, Waltz said that such explanations are just “spin” from the Biden White House.
“The unclear point is, did the Pentagon under the Trump administration brief the Trump White House and give them the option to take action, or did they decide not to brief him for whatever reason?” Waltz said.
The Florida congressman told host Stuart Varney that he spoke with some former Trump White House officials over the weekend, and among them there was speculation “that the Pentagon deliberately did it because they thought Trump would be too provocative and too aggressive.”
Waltz noted that one former Pentagon leader he would like to hear from is General James Mattis, who was the Defense Secretary from 2017 to 2019.
“What did he know and what did he decide to pass on and brief to the president?” Waltz said. “This was a national embarrassment and international embarrassment, and we need to get to the bottom of it,” he added.
“If it’s true the Pentagon purposely did NOT tell President Trump of Chinese Spy Balloons during his administration then we had a serious breach in command during the Trump admin,” tweeted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Monday. “The POTUS is the Commander in Chief. We must investigate and hold accountable those who broke rank.”
If it’s true the Pentagon purposely did NOT tell President Trump of Chinese Spy Balloons during his administration then we had a serious breach in command during the Trump admin.
The POTUS is the Commander in Chief.
We must investigate and hold accountable those who broke rank.
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) February 6, 2023