Trump officials deny Chinese spy balloons flew above U.S. on their watch
On Saturday, a senior DoD official told reporters that Chinese spy balloons flew above the U.S. three times during the last administration.
“This never happened. It would have never happened,” Former President Donald Trump told Fox News on Sunday. | Alex Brandon/AP Photo
02/05/2023 05:35 PM EST
Biden administration officials on Saturday claimed Chinese spy balloons soared above the United States while former President Donald Trump was in office. Yet officials from that era have responded in singular fashion: Not on our watch.
It took just one briefing to shift the debate from President Joe Biden’s handling of the aerial vehicle — specifically over the decision not to shoot it down over land — to whether the Trump administration missed multiple illegal Chinese incursions into American airspace.
POLITICO spoke with five senior Trump administration officials who said they were never told of such incidents occurring when they were in office. Their collective comments support what former President Donald Trump and members of his team, including his second Defense Secretary Mark Esper, have said on the record.
“This never happened. It would have never happened,” Trump told Fox News on Sunday.
“I’m not aware of a single civilian national security leader from the Trump administration who heard of this,” said a Trump administration national security official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence issues.
The backlash came after senior Biden administration officials spoke to reporters about the Saturday