A new report confirms even more details about the Chinese spy balloons that floated in U.S. airspace during the Trump administration, despite Republicans’ vehement protestations to the contrary.
An Air Force intelligence report from April found that a Chinese spy balloon had circled the globe in 2019, passing by Hawaii and flying directly over Florida during its journey, CNN reported Monday.
The report directly contradicts multiple Republican claims that there had been no such incidents during Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump himself and several of his former security and intelligence advisers also insisted there had been no balloon incidents, which is apparently now an actual national security phrase and not a mishap at a traveling circus.
The Department of Defense said in a statement Saturday that at least three suspected Chinese spy balloons had crossed the United States during Trump’s time in office, citing an anonymous senior official.
The Air Force report, which confirms there had been a spy balloon, did not specify when the 2019 balloon passed over Florida. But Trump was at one of his Florida properties 39 days that year, according to a Washington Post analysis, so there is a small chance it could have passed right over his head.
The latest balloon has unleashed one of the weirdest timelines of late, which is no small feat. It has sparked a wave of political fighting, as well as a social media trend of conservative politicians performatively aiming guns at the sky.
The balloon appeared over the U.S. just days before Secretary of State Antony Blinken was due to touch down for his first visit to Beijing. China says the balloon was for weather research and had simply been blown off course—a claim the U.S. rejected.
Blinken’s trip was supposed to ease tensions between the U.S. and China. But now they seem to be inflating.