Chinese spy balloons traveled across the continental United States during the Trump administration, according to a senior administration official, but the details were only uncovered after Trump had left office.  

The balloons briefly traveled over mainland US at least three times during Trump’s term but they were never shot down or publicly disclosed, it’s claimed.

Trump, together with several of his national security and defense officials have rejected the claim, saying that it ‘never happened.’

At least one flew over portions of Texas and Florida during the Trump administration with additional sightings near Pacific Islands Hawaii and Guam.

Trump compared the incident and ensuing diplomatic crisis to the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal that his successor, President Joe Biden, presided over in August 2021.

Donald Trump

Joe Biden

The Department of Defense reported that three Chinese spy balloons entered US airspace during the Trump administration. Trump (left) has chastised Joe Biden (right) for not immediately shooting the balloon down when he first learned about it last week

Trump, together with several of his national security and defense officials rejected the claim that several balloons from China flew into the U.S. while he was in office

Trump, together with several of his national security and defense officials rejected the claim that several balloons from China flew into the U.S. while he was in office 

The routes of two Chinese spy balloons menacing the West in recent days

The routes of two Chinese spy balloons menacing the West in recent days

‘The Chinese Balloon situation is a disgrace, just like the Afghanistan horror show, and everything else surrounding the grossly incompetent Biden Administration,’ the former president wrote on his app Truth Social.

‘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!’ 

On Sunday, a defense official explained how US intelligence and not the Biden administration, made the assessment that such balloons had cross into the country.

‘The information was discovered after the [Trump] administration left,’ the official told Fox News.

‘These balloons are all part of a Chinese fleet of balloons developed to conduct surveillance operations, which have also violated the sovereignty of other countries,’ the official explained, ‘often undertaken at the direction of the People’s Liberation Army,’ the armed wing of the Chinese Communist Party.

According to the official, Chinese balloons have been spotted over several countries across five continents, including Asia, South Asia, and Europe. 

The official also explained how the balloons went undetected at the time. 

An F-22 Raptor fighter jet fired a single AIM-9X missile to take down a Chinese spy balloon and its payload, which was equipped with cameras, sensors and radars

An F-22 Raptor fighter jet fired a single AIM-9X missile to take down a Chinese spy balloon and its payload, which was equipped with cameras, sensors and radars 

‘Two things can be true at once: this happened, and it wasn’t detected,’ they said noting that the others did not fly for as long as the one that recently flew across the country.

Multiple Trump officials aside from the former president have disputed the Pentagon’s assessment and relevant media reports.

‘It’s not true,’ former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe flatly told Fox News on Sunday morning.

‘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?’

He added, ‘I don’t remember that either. Because it didn’t happen.’

The ex-intelligence official called the balloon that was recently popped ‘unprecedented.’

‘We have never had a circumstance where an adversary has had spy craft over our country our continental United States posing a threat for the better part of a week straight,’ Ratcliffe said. 

A Chinese spy balloon entered US airspace this week, but senior defense official is now saying Chinese spy balloons previously entered US airspace three times during Trump’s presidency

A Chinese spy balloon entered US airspace this week, but senior defense official is now saying Chinese spy balloons previously entered US airspace three times during Trump’s presidency

The remnants of a large balloon drift above the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of South Carolina, with a fighter jet and its contrail seen below it on Saturday

The remnants of a large balloon drift above the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of South Carolina, with a fighter jet and its contrail seen below it on Saturday

Richard Grenell, Trump’s former ambassador to Germany, accused the Pentagon of hiding behind anonymous sources.

‘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,’ Grenell wrote on Twitter.

‘And shame on the DC media activists who continue to allow the Biden team to be so weak by giving them aid & comfort in their lies and weakness.’ 

GOP Rep. Mike Waltz of Florida, a military veteran and a close ally of Trump’s in Congress, also suggested that the former president’s officials had no idea of any such ‘spy balloons’ under their tenures.

‘The Office of the Secretary of Defense has informed my office that several Chinese balloon incidents have happened in the past few years – including over [Florida],’ Waltz stated on Twitter.

‘And according to several Trump Admin national security officials – they were never informed of these intrusions by the Pentagon.’ 

The revelation startled Mark Esper, the former Secretary of Defense, and comes as Trump and other Republicans claimed he would have shot down the balloon while calling on Joe Biden to resign over the stalled attack on the craft. 

One such Republican was US Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who tweeted on Saturday: ‘I just spoke with our GREAT America First President Trump. He would have never allowed China to fly a spy balloon over our country and our military bases and assets. 

‘Pres Trump would have shot it down before it entered the US.’ 

US Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was among the Republicans claiming Trump would have shot down the balloon if he was president

US Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was among the Republicans claiming Trump would have shot down the balloon if he was president 

Esper told CNN that he was ‘surprised’ by the Pentagon’s statement, saying he was never told about Chinese surveillance balloons entering the US when he served between July 2019 to November 2020. 

‘I don’t ever recall somebody coming into my office or reading anything that the Chinese had a surveillance balloon above the United States,’ Esper said, adding that ‘I would remember that for sure.’

Biden first became aware of the balloon on January 28, when it was spotted over Alaska. The US military tracked it over Canadian airspace and as it re-entered US territory on Tuesday.

Fearing the debris could hit ‘sensitive’ areas as it traveled across the country, officials warned the president not to shoot it down until it was flying over the ocean. 

US officials confirmed that an F-22 Raptor fighter jet took down the balloon with a single AIM-9X sidewinder missile at 2.38pm on Saturday, off the coast of Myrtle beach. 

The delayed response, however, drew ire from GOP officials, blasting Biden for not immediately going through with the order to take down the balloon.

US Rep. Joe  Wilson and Sen. Josh Hawley condemned the Biden administration over the balloon incident, with Wilson calling on the president to resign

US Rep. Joe  Wilson and Sen. Josh Hawley condemned the Biden administration over the balloon incident, with Wilson calling on the president to resign 

US. Rep. Joe Wilson, of South Carolina, said both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris should resign because of the fiasco. 

‘The catastrophic Chinese Spy Balloon spectacle clearly threatened American families from Alaska to my home community in South Carolina and confirms President Biden and Vice President Harris should resign,’ Wilson said in a tweet. 

‘It is irrelevant for American families which party is in power because the first criteria of a leader should be their capability regardless of party, and sadly Biden and Harris are failures,’ he added. 

US Sen. Josh Hawley had called for a hearing against Biden on the ‘major domestic security threat.’

He tweeted: ‘The Homeland Security Committee needs to have public hearings NOW on the Chinese spy balloon – how did Biden let this happen.’ 

Other GOP officials weighed in on the issue and warned that waiting to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon only showed weakness

Other GOP officials weighed in on the issue and warned that waiting to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon only showed weakness 

Sen. Tim Scott echoed his colleagues’ outrage, saying that allowing a balloon from the CCP to fly over America ‘is the embodiment of weak leadership.’ 

‘Weakness tempts aggressors. Strength stops them,’ he tweeted.  

Sen. Marsha Blackburn also questioned the decision to shoot down the balloon only after it was made public. 

‘It makes you wonder, would Biden’s Department of Defense have shot it down if the American people hadn’t found out,’ she tweeted. 

Mike Pence, Trump’s former vice president, tweeted, ‘Shoot down the Chinese spy balloon,’ as he then called on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to condemn the surveillance incident at his now-canceled meeting in Beijing. 

The GOP officials have not publicly commented on the revelation that such balloons were encountered during the Trump administration.  

DailyMail

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