Biden admin offers Trump team Chinese balloon briefing, as Trump says never happened on his watch
The Biden administration is reportedly offering to brief former Trump officials on intelligence that Chinese spy balloons entered the country undetected during their administration, while President Trump remains steadfast such balloons would did not enter U.S. airspace under his watch.
Trump and administration Defense Secretary Mark Esper and National Security Advisor John Bolton also have each said they were not briefed on any incursions from China during their time in office.
The issue surfaced after the Chinese surveillance ballon was spotted early last week traversing the U.S. – and over military installations, before it was shot down Saturday by a missile for an Air Force jet off the Carolina coast.
As Biden administration critics piled on about a ballon have slip into U.S. airspace being a major security lapse, the Biden Defense Department said this past weekend that "Chinese balloons briefly transited the continental United States at least three times" under the previous administration.
"This information was discovered after the prior administration left," a senior Biden administration official told Politico on Sunday evening. "The intelligence community is prepared to offer key officials from the Trump administration briefings on [China’s] surveillance program," .
It is unclear how the Biden administration discovered the alleged airspace incursions after Trump left office, but the official also said briefers would be willing to discuss similar Chinese operations throughout Asia and Europe over the past few years.
As of Sunday afternoon, Trump still expressed confidence that China did not send surveillance equipment over the United States while he was in office.
"The Chinese would never have floated the Blimp ('Balloon') over the United States if I were President!!!" he wrote on Truth Social. Earlier in the day, he called the Biden administration's claims about previous spy balloons "JUST FAKE DISINFORMATION!"
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) acknowledged on CNN on Sunday that Chinese spy balloons have entered the United States before but said last week's flight was "unprecedented" as the balloon traversed much of the continental United States.