The Chinese spy balloons that allegedly traveled across the U.S. during the Trump administration weren't detected until after Trump left office, a top Biden official says.
The crucial detail was left out of earlier reports that were used by Democrats to deflect criticism of President Biden and his delayed response to the spy balloon that was found hovering Montana last week.
An anonymous high-ranking bureaucrat at the Pentagon had floated a vague story Saturday that there had been at least three incidents involving Chinese spy balloons during the Trump presidency, as well one in the early stage of the Biden administration.
Trump had dismissed the story as "FAKE DISINFORMATIION" designed to "take heat" off Biden, and former Trump officials such as Defense Secretary Mark Esper and national security adviser John Bolton also said they had never been briefed about any Chinese spy balloons.
The Biden official who made the claim added Sunday that the balloons went "undetected" until the Biden administration, an important detail that was omitted from earlier, widely publicized reports.
While the new information appears to vindicate Trump, it also raises some troubling questions. How exactly did the Biden administration discover these previously "undetected" balloons, and why is the public only learning about them now?
A statement from Gen. Glen VanHerck, the head of U.S. Northern Command, Monday did little to clear things up. The general said the military did not detect the balloons initially and that their existence was discovered later from intelligence analysis of some kind.
“We did not detect those threats,” VanHerck told reporters.
“The intel community after the fact — I believe as has been briefed already — assessed those threats from additional means of collection and made us aware of those balloons that were previously approaching North America or transited North America.”
Some Republicans such as Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Michael Waltz (Fl.) are speculating whether the Pentagon withheld the information from Trump, for whatever reason. It wouldn't be the first time Trump was undermined by his own military.
Regardless, the timing of this latest intelligence dump -- too late for Trump to take action, and just in time to spare Biden some embarrassment -- certainly appears suspicious, as does the piecemeal nature of the leak, which allowed pro-Biden partisans to spread a misleading and incomplete narrative.
Trump is insisting that the whole story is a fabrication, which does not appear outside the realm of possibility either.
Whatever is going on here, something doesn't seem right about this story.