On Monday during an interview with Fox Business Network, Republican Rep. Mike Waltz suggested that the Pentagon and General James Mattis refused to tell then-President Donald Trump about Chinese spy balloons because they were worried his reaction would be too strong.
“My office has been briefed by the office of the Secretary of Defense of the current Pentagon that it happened over Florida, it happened over Texas, and that it’s happened before,” he said during the interview.
“We have more detailed questions but what is unclear, Stuart, at this point is, did the Pentagon under the Trump Administration brief the Trump White House and give them the option to take action or did they decide not to brief them for whatever reason?” Waltz asked.
“And there is some speculation, I talked to Trump administration officials over the weekend, that the Pentagon deliberately did it because they thought Trump would be too provocative and too aggressive,” he continued.
“So that’s what we need to get to the bottom of and one person that I’m waiting to hear from that we haven’t heard from that list is former Secretary of Defense, General Mattis who was the secretary during this time period,” Waltz said. “What did he know and what did he decide to pass on and brief to the president.”
During a speech in Vero Beach, Florida later on Monday, Mattis claimed he had no knowledge of Chinese spy balloons under his watch.
“I don’t mean to make light of it. But don’t worry that it suddenly was able to find things out that satellites up in lower orbit weren’t spotting already,” Mattis said/
“You’ve gotta wonder was it stupidity or the left hand not knowing what the right hand were doing,” Mattis continued. “Why did the Chinese have time to do it. I’m going to tell frankly young guys who want to make 4-star general… bucket of rocks. But in this case, I would still say it’s serious.”
“And that I wouldn’t get overly worried about it. But there are some questions that we all as Americans need answers to. Did it really happen during past administrations?” Mattis asked. “Because there isn’t anybody from the past administration who is aware of it. I’m not for the first two years of that administration.”
“Now it’s possible that there are old radar tapes that show things. Now if you go back and you know what they look like. Now if you go back and look that isn’t an ice storm over the Aleutians, that was a balloon,” he said. “But there are some answers that the American people are owed. And could we not have taken it down sooner? I mean NORAD has a lot of Canadian fighters up there intercepting Russian planes routinely.”
🚨Breaking: Just now in Vero Beach, FL General Mattis denies having any knowledge of CCP balloon flying over continental US on his watch. pic.twitter.com/zUIRC2XPUp
— fran henig (@FranHenig) February 6, 2023