Trump officials knew about mystery balloons but never connected dots to China: WSJ
Mark Esper, Donald Trump and Mike Pence AFP

Defense officials during the Trump administration were aware of other spy balloon incursions into U.S. territory — but never reported these incidents to the White House and never reached a definitive conclusion that they originated from China, according to a Friday report by the Wall Street Journal.

"Following the shootdown earlier this month of a Chinese high-altitude balloon, the Biden administration revealed these past incidents, but didn’t say where they had flown, and added that they likely went undetected by the previous administration," reported Vivian Salama. "Now it appears some intelligence officials at the Pentagon were aware of the incidents and harbored concerns that they were related to China, believing Beijing was using them to test radar-jamming systems over sensitive U.S. military sites. The data collected about the Trump-era incidents was limited to a basic assessment and therefore wasn’t shared more broadly within the government at the time."

The balloons in question were detected over Navy facilities in Coronado, California; Norfolk, Virginia; and Guam.

Despite some officials' suspicions of Chinese involvement, intelligence assessments "never got to be assertive" about that conclusion, and major officials like Defense Secretary Mark Esper say they do not recall being briefed on the matter.

READ MORE: 'Unmistakable' signs Georgia grand jury believes it saw 'serious wrongdoing': CNN legal analyst

The Biden administration revealed previous spy balloon incidents after coming under under heavy criticism from Republicans for following military leaders' advice to wait until the most recent spy balloon crossed the continental U.S. into the waters off the coast of South Carolina to shoot it down.

Trump initially claimed this was untrue; however, soon after, Fox News reported that at least one spy balloon had flown over parts of Texas and Florida during his administration.