A claim that implied the Trump administration had been aware of Chinese spy balloons crossing the United States has been buffeted by contrary winds.
A new Fox News report quoting what Fox called a “senior administration official” said that although balloons did enter the U.S. while President Donald Trump was in office, “they went undetected.”
“Two things can be true at once: this happened and it wasn’t detected,” the official said.
The official said that “U.S. intelligence, not the Biden administration” has concluded that “PRC [People’s Republic of China] government surveillance balloons transited the continental U.S. 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.”
“This information was discovered after the [Trump] administration left,” the official said. A report by Politico noted, “Other senior Biden administration officials say it’s possible senior Trump figures weren’t briefed on those incursions. In some cases, devices were smaller and were only in U.S. airspace for short periods of time — making them harder to detect. And in others, some surmised that the information didn’t filter up to the top because the overflights weren’t significant enough.”
On Saturday, the Biden administration — roundly lambasted for its handling of the Chinese spy balloon incident — gave a news briefing and sought to drag in Trump.
“(The People’s Republic of China) government 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,” a defense official said.
Trump replied with anger.
“This never happened. It would have never happened,” Trump said.
“It never happened with us under the Trump administration and if it did, we would have shot it down immediately. It’s disinformation,” he said.
Other Trump-era officials said the claim was news to them, according to a summary of comments posted by The Hill.
“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. I haven’t heard of anything that occurred after I left either,” former national security adviser John Bolton said.
Robert O’Brien, also a Trump national security adviser, said, “Unequivocally, I have never been briefed on the issue.”
Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe called the claim “not true.”“I can refute it,” Ratcliffe said.
The official told Fox News Sunday that the Chinese balloons are “part of a larger pattern.”
“These balloons are all part of a PRC fleet of balloons developed to conduct surveillance operations, which have also violated the sovereignty of other countries,” the official said.
Flights are “often undertaken at the direction of the People’s Liberation Army,” the official said.
The official said nations in East Asia, South Asia, and Europe have had balloons traipse across their airspace.
Four months ago, a balloon crashed into the sea off the coast of Hawaii, Fox News reported Sunday, citing unnamed U.S. officials.
The Daily Mail reported that Chinese spy balloons have previously been seen over Hawaii and Guam.This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.