(Jacob Bruns, Headline USA) The Pentagon refused on Monday to share the name of a “senior defense official” who claimed, without evidence, that China had sent at least three spy balloons to the U.S. during the Trump administration, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
“PRC [People’s Republic of China] government surveillance balloons transited the continental United States briefly at least three times during the prior administration and once that we know of at the beginning of this administration, but never for this duration of time,” the unnamed official told news outlets on Saturday, as the balloon made its way across the continental U.S. before getting shot down off the coast of Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“We spoke directly with Chinese officials through multiple channels, but rather than address their intrusion into our airspace, the PRC put out an explanation that lacked any credibility,” the anonymous source alleged.
Democrats latched on to the narrative, blaming Trump and praising President Joe Biden for his allegedly decisive action.
However, several current and former Pentagon officials stepped in to correct the narrative, noting that no Chinese spy balloons were ever seen during Trump’s administration.
Among those was former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who—after having been accused of seditiously hiding the information from Trump—denied ever having known about it.
Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe also unequivocally refuted the notion, along with former Defense Secretary Mark Esper and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
"I can refute it. Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper refuted it yesterday. Former Secretary of State and CIA Director Mike Pompeo has refuted it."
WATCH: Former DNI John Ratcliffe debunks the claim that Chinese spy balloons occupied airspace during the Trump administration. pic.twitter.com/G3P9MDGqvD
— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) February 5, 2023
Biden officials later changed the story, insisting that the evidence of the balloons had not been discovered until after Trump left office.
National Security spokesman John Kirby was among those who pushed the dubious claim, but he declined to elaborate on the process that the Democrat officials had used to discover the Chinese incursions.
“I can tell you that we discovered these flights after we came into office, and I’m not going to get in to the specifics of how we did the forensics,” Kirby told reporters. “I think you can understand that we’re going to be careful about that.”
When asked to name the official who neglected to share such important details in the initial statement, the Pentagon declined to provide a name.
“As the briefing was conducted on background, we are only attributing remarks to a senior defense [official] and senior military officials,” a Pentagon spokesperson said.
The initial claim was so misleading that even fake news network CNN reported the essential clarification regarding the timing of the spy balloon discovery.
“The transiting of three suspected Chinese spy balloons over the continental US during the Trump administration was only discovered after President Joe Biden took office,” the network reported.