Republicans react to reports of Chinese balloons during Trump era

Republicans have reacted to reports that Chinese spy balloons flew over the United States during the administration of former President Donald Trump.

The US military shot down what the Pentagon said was a Chinese spy balloon off South Carolina on Saturday after passing through sensitive military sites across North America.

Republican critics had demanded that President Joe Biden order the ball down, with Trump writing on his Truth Social website on Friday: “TEAR DOWN THE BALLOON!”

President Joe Biden told reporters on Saturday that he had ordered the balloon to be brought down as soon as possible on Wednesday, but had been advised that the best time for such action would be when it was above the water.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at the South Carolina State House January 28, 2023 in Columbia, South Carolina. Republicans have reacted to reports that Chinese spy balloons flew over the United States during Donald Trump’s administration.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

On Saturday, a defense official said similar Chinese balloons had briefly crossed the continental United States at least three times during the Trump administration. Officials said it also happened on at least one other occasion during Biden’s tenure as president.

Trump responded on Truth Social with a denial.

“The Chinese ball situation is a disgrace,” he wrote, adding that his successor’s administration was “grossly incompetent.”

He added: “Now they say a balloon was put up by China during the Trump administration, to calm Biden’s slow fools. China had too much respect for ‘TRUMP’ for that to have happened. happened, and it NEVER did.

A Trump spokesperson has been contacted for further comment.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked on Fox News if Chinese balloons violated US airspace during Trump’s presidency.

“Not to my knowledge,” he said. “It’s different in nature, of course… I don’t remember anyone saying that from the ground during our four years in power.”

Senator Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on CNN State of the Union that the latest incident cannot be compared to any other incident in the past.

“The existence of balloons is no mystery,” he told Jake Tapper.

“What is unprecedented is a balloon flight that entered over Idaho and flew over Montana, over all of these sensitive military installations, Air Force bases, ICBM fields, right in the middle of the country.

“It’s never happened before, it’s unprecedented. That it briefly flew over part of the continental United States is one thing, but what we’ve seen this week is is unprecedented and that’s why everyone reacts the way they react. We’ve never seen that. So it’s not comparable to anything that has happened so far.

Rubio also questioned why the balloon wasn’t brought down sooner, suggesting it may have been because the Biden administration didn’t want to cancel Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Beijing.

“Why didn’t the president appear on television? said Rubio. “He has the ability to summon the country and the cameras and basically explain what we’re dealing with here and why he made the decisions he makes and what they intend to do.”

On Fox News Sunday Senator Tom Cotton said former Trump administration officials were unaware of any incidents of alleged Chinese spy balloons.

He went on to suggest that this could be because “maybe it first happened under the Obama administration and it was said at the time that it was no big deal. and that they shouldn’t sound the alarm about it.”

He added: “Perhaps even more worrying is…our senior military personnel were aware of these balloons in the past and [had] not inform their civilian superiors during the Trump administration.

“Or perhaps worst of all, did we not know about these balloons in the past and only learned about them after the fact by studying historical data? Again, these are all open questions for which the American people deserve answers and we in Congress are going to get those answers.”


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