(FiveNation.com)- After a Pentagon official said on Saturday that at least three Chinese spy balloons traveled over the US during the previous administration, several former Trump national security and defense officials, as well as the former president, refuted the claim, Fox News reported on Sunday.
Former President Trump told Fox News Digital that it never would have happened during his administration because Beijing “respected us greatly.” Trump said if China had sent a spy balloon over the country during his term in office, “we would have shot it down immediately.”
The former president called the claim “disinformation” and said that the Biden administration made the claim because “they look so bad, as usual.”
Former Trump national security advisor John Bolton told Fox that the Biden administration needs to provide “specific examples” to Congress, adding that during his tenure, “I can say with 100% certainty,” that he never heard anything about it.
Trump’s other national security advisor Robert O’Brien, who served after Bolton, told Fox that he could say “unequivocally” that he was never “briefed on the issue” nor were his deputies.
Richard Grenell, Trump’s acting Director of National Intelligence, told Fox that during his tenure, he conducted “one of the biggest intelligence deep dives on China,” including their surveillance operations, and “it never came up.” He said if a balloon had crossed into US airspace, someone in the intel community would have been aware of it and that information “would have bubbled up to me to brief the president.”
Former Trump Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CNN that he “could not recall anyone ever coming into my office or reading anything” about Chinese spy balloons entering US airspace.
During a Pentagon press briefing on Monday, NORAD commander Gen. Glen VanHerck said the US military had a “domain awareness gap” that allowed the three spy balloons to enter US airspace undetected during the Trump administration.
VanHerck added that the intelligence community gathered evidence about the other balloons “after the fact.”