Former President Donald Trump responded to claims that Chinese regime spy balloons entered U.S. airspace during his administration, saying such alleged events “never happened.”
An anonymous U.S. Defense Department official said over the weekend that spy balloons transited over U.S. territory under the Trump administration. But Trump, in a Fox News interview on Sunday, pushed back.
“This never happened. It would have never happened,” Trump told the outlet, adding that the Chinese regime “respected us greatly” under his leadership. “It never happened with us under the Trump administration and if it did, we would have shot it down immediately,” added Trump. “It’s disinformation.”
Before the balloon was shot down, Trump on his social media platform Truth Social had called for the U.S. military to shoot down the balloon last week after it was spotted near Billings, Montana.
“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 Biden administration, Trump wrote Sunday. “China had too much respect for ‘TRUMP’ for this to have happened, and it NEVER did.”
Other Officials Respond
Mark Esper, who served under Trump as secretary of defense, refuted claims about balloons flying over the United States under the previous administration.
“I don’t ever recall somebody coming into my office or reading anything that the Chinese had a surveillance balloon above the United States,” he told CNN. “I would remember that for sure.”
John Bolton, a former U.S. national security adviser under Trump, said that he never heard of any spy balloons entering U.S. airspace or hovering over U.S. territory while Trump was in office. Bolton, also a Bush administration official when he was in office, also said that he never heard of anything like this happening before he joined the Trump administration in 2018.
“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,” Bolton told Fox News on Sunday. “I haven’t heard of anything that occurred after I left either.”