Mike Pompeo, who first served as director of the CIA and later as secretary of state under former President Trump, pushed back on claims from the Biden administration that China sent spy balloons over the U.S. in the Trump era.
President Biden‘s chief security aide Jake Sullivan said Monday that U.S. intelligence agencies did not learn of previous Chinese spy balloon incursions until after former President Trump left office, but Mr. Trump disputed this happened while he was in office.
“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,” Mr. Trump said on his Truth Social site. “China had too much respect for ‘TRUMP’ for this to have happened, and it NEVER did. JUST FAKE DISINFORMATION!”
Mr. Pompeo, among other senior Trump administration officials, denied reports that China was using balloons to spy on the U.S. before President Biden took office.
“I’ve seen the stories that said this happened on our watch. I can speak to this. I never knew about it, and a balloon the size of three buses slowly making its way against our heartland for days. I’m pretty confident the CIA director or the secretary of State would have been told about it,” Mr. Pompeo said during an interview on the Christian Broadcast Network Monday.
“President Trump says he wasn’t told. Two national security advisers said they didn’t know. I await anxiously to find out what happened. I hope it’s not the case that the military knew and didn’t tell its political leadership,” he said.
“But I can certainly say that I know of no one in the administration at the political senior level that was aware of such an action taking place on our watch. We wouldn’t have allowed it to happen for five days.”
The most recent balloon sent over by China was initially discovered early last week, and it was not until Saturday that the U.S. military shot down the surveillance vessel, which China alleged was weather-monitoring craft, but which U.S. analysts say was loaded with some 700 pounds of high-technology surveillance equipment.
Other Trump administration officials saying they were never informed of such an incident were former director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, former national security adviser Robert O’Brien and former national security adviser John Bolton.
“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,” Mr. Bolton told Fox News. “I haven’t heard of anything that occurred after I left either.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia Republican, on Monday called for an investigation into why, if there were prior Chinese incursions, Mr. Trump was apparently not informed.
“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,” Ms. Greene said on Twitter.
• Kerry Picket can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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