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Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) revealed that the spy balloons that happened under Donald Trump were never discussed outside of the Pentagon.
Fox reported that the former president and his national security officials never had spy balloons that came over the United States under his administration. According to Waltz, the Pentagon is saying that there have been spy balloons over the U.S. in the past, including some over Florida that he said he was previously told about.
"I don't ever recall somebody coming into my office or reading anything that the Chinese had a surveillance balloon above the United States," former Secretary Mark Esper told CNN. "I would remember that for sure."
According to the report, a senior administration official told Fox Sunday that "U.S. intelligence, not the Biden administration, but U.S. intel assesses PRC government surveillance balloons transited the continental U.S. 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."
That confirms what Waltz had posted earlier on Sunday morning.
"The Office of the Secretary of Defense has informed my office that several Chinese balloon incidents have happened in the past few years - including over Florida. Why weren’t they shot down?" he asked. "And according to several Trump Admin national security officials - they were never informed of these intrusions by the Pentagon."
It's unknown why the Pentagon would not have informed the top officials, but it could be why the former president would have asserted that nothing like that happened under his leadership.
Waltz, a former Green Beret, hasn't revealed any further details what he was told in the past Chinese spying.
Fox cited Defense Secretary Chris Miller, who said that he'd "never heard of a Chinese spy balloon while he was in government." He served as the director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
A simple search turned up at least one incident of a Chinese spy balloon over India in 2019 from Tibet. Other balloons have now been spotted over Columbia and Costa Rica, CNN reported Sunday afternoon.
It's unclear whether the Pentagon will answer questions publicly on past balloons or whether that information is considered to be classified.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani criticized President Joe Biden for not using secret evaporation weapons on a suspected Chinese spy balloon to "make it melt."
On his Sunday WABC radio program, Giuliani argued that Biden should have disregarded military advice, instead shooting down the balloon over U.S. soil.
"You need a president when you're in a war," he said. "We don't have a president. And we have people around him that are either weaklings, dummies, crooks, or communists. So, it is completely outrageous for a Chinese balloon to be on one inch of American territory."
"And if by now, we can't shoot down a Chinese balloon without danger to ourselves, shame on us!" he bellowed. "What are we doing with all that money? We can't shoot it down without danger to ourselves."
Giuliani recalled the September 11 attack when he said terrorists "evaporate[d] the World Trade Center."
"They can make it go away, make it melt," he complained. "And we can't shoot a balloon down and make it melt? Don't give me this stuff! This is where you need a president."
Listen to the audio clip below from WABC. You can also listen to it at this link.
George Gilmore, a one-time Republican powerbroker in New Jersey, fell from grace after three federal tax fraud convictions — but then former President Donald Trump pardoned him on his way out the door and, according to POLITICO, he has rebuilt his sphere of influence not just among New Jersey Republicans, but even Democrats.
"Just two years prior, the 73-year-old Gilmore, who had been the undisputed boss of the most powerful Republican organization in New Jersey for more than two decades, had been largely written off as one in a long series of disgraced politicos," reported Matt Friedman. "He was hit with three felony tax-related convictions after a federal trial that included embarrassing personal revelations, like those about his profligate spending on antique Coca-Cola machines, a $33,000 bronze George Washington statue and other items. His defense attorney characterized it as a hoarding disorder."
"But a key connection to Donald Trump got Gilmore a pardon on the president’s last day in the White House," said the report. "By the following year, Gilmore had again become a force in New Jersey politics, so much so that the state’s Democratic governor and a Democratic state senator in a neighboring county — Vin Gopal, one of Republicans’ top targets in state legislative elections — broke bread with him."
Per the report, Gilmore — who still faces liens on his home and owes millions of dollars to the IRS — could exercise significant influence in the next New Jersey governor's race in 2025. He potentially has influence over Republican endorsements for governor, which matters because a quirk of New Jersey election law means local endorsements affect how prominently candidates appear on the ballot.
This could be a particular obstacle to Jack Ciattarelli, the GOP candidate who came within 3 points of beating Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy in 2021 and who is reportedly interested in running again. Gilmore didn't support Ciattarelli the first time around, instead backing far-right alternative Phil Rizzo.
"Gilmore’s return as chair didn’t start smoothly. He blamed the officials who had controlled the party during his absence for removing items from the party headquarters late at night and quickly transferring funds out of party accounts," noted the report. "He filed a lawsuit seeking emails and other records, with one defendant, Republican Assemblymember Greg McGuckin, calling him 'someone in severe financial distress who managed to escape federal prison only due to his political connections,'"
However, the report said, "tensions have quieted as Gilmore has worked to restore his grip on power. This month, he agreed to drop his lawsuit, under the stipulation that the party’s former executive director admitted in writing to deleting a Google account to block Gilmore’s access to the former party leaders’ emails."