A senior U.S. defense official has revealed that Chinese surveillance balloons similar to the one that was brought down near the coast of South Carolina on Saturday had flown over the U.S. on at least three separate occasions during the Trump administration.
The Republicans have been vocally critical of the Biden administration over their handling of the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that was flying across the country. However, the official noted that there had been three other instances during the Trump administration and one instance earlier in the Biden administration of a similar apparatus flying over the country.
The senior defense official also noted that they had been in direct communication with Chinese officials but that the People’s Republic of China had maintained their explanation for the presence of the balloon. They had also refused to discuss the fact that the apparatus had intruded into the United States airspace.
Biden had authorized the Pentagon to shoot down the balloon on Saturday with a missile strike. However, the Republicans are not happy with this decision, saying that the balloon should have been brought down sooner. However, military officials have maintained that shooting down the balloon while it was flying over land could have led to distraction and could have endangered American lives due to the debris. This is why it was safer for the balloon to have been brought down over the water.
Biden himself while speaking with reporters said that during the initial briefing about the balloon he had said that it needed to be shot down.
Former President Donald Trump has denied the statements made by the defense official that there were such balloons flying over the U.S. during his administration.