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Republican Gov. Chris Sununu issues bold prediction about Trump’s 2024 chances: ‘He can’t get it done’

Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu says former President Donald Trump has no chance of beating President Biden if he wins the Republican nomination in 2024. Sununu made the comments during a Sunday appearance on ABC News’s “This Week,” going on to hint at his own aspirations to run for president. Sununu would join Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and Nikki Haley as top contenders for the 2024 Republican ticket. Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is also a potential candidate, but he has not announced his intentions to run. “Unfortunately, at the end of the day, November of 22 showed us that, right? Trump is going to be seen as a very extreme candidate. The country is going to push back against it,” Sununu said Sunday. “It can’t get done. He could get the nomination, but he can’t get it done,” he added. PENCE CLASSIFIED DOCS DISCOVERY SHOWS NO ONE WILL BE CHARGED: EX-FEDERAL PROSECUTOR Sununu rejected polling from the Washington Post and ABC showing ahead of Biden with a 48% to 44% lead. Another poll from Emerson College showed Trump in the lead 44% to 41%. BIDEN TORCHED OVER CLASSIFIED DOCS EXCUSES: ‘WHAT’S NEXT, ‘CORNPOP DID IT?’ Sununu went on to suggest he may throw his own hat in the ring in 2024. “Definitely thinking about it, having those conversations,” Sununu said, responding to a question on the topic. “but at the end of the day, you’re going to have a lot of Republicans that get in that race. They’re all really good people; they’re really good candidates. You have Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo and Governor DeSantis and a lot of folks who are going to get in.” Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appeared on the same program later Sunday morning and agreed with Sununu’s assessment, saying he doesn’t think Trump can win. CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP More Republicans have grown skeptical of Trump following the 2022 midterm elections, which saw Trump-endorsed candidates losing close races across the country. Trump’s losses in hotly-contested Senate races hurt Republicans in particular, costing the party control of the Senate.
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Chinese spy balloon crashed off the coast of Hawaii 4 months ago, U.S. officials say

EXCLUSIVE: A Chinese spy balloon crashed into the Pacific off the coast of Hawaii four months ago, U.S. officials say.  Fox News has also learned at least one Chinese spy balloon flew over portions of Texas and Florida during the Trump administration, despite the former president’s insistence it never happened. The news comes after the U.S. military shot down a Chinese balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, seven days after it was allowed to drift across the continental United States. The White House said that Biden followed the advice of the Pentagon and top military leaders not to shoot the craft down over the U.S. in case it caused civilian casualties and other collateral damage. RUBIO SAYS BIDEN WAITING TO AMERICAN PUBLIC ABOUT CHINESE BALLOON A ‘DERELICTION OF DUTY’ Biden administration officials’ claimed that Chinese surveillance balloons also briefly transited the continental U.S. at least three times during the Trump administration. But Trump and top national security officials from his administration said that did not occur and criticized the Biden administration for spreading disinformation. “This never happened. It would have never happened,” Trump told Fox News Digital on Sunday morning, adding that Beijing “respected us greatly” under his leadership. “It never happened with us under the Trump administration and if it did, we would have shot it down immediately,” Trump said. “It’s disinformation.”
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US intel assesses Chinese spy balloons transited US several times, went ‘undetected’: Senior admin official

U.S. intelligence assesses that Chinese government surveillance balloons have transited the continental United States several times but went “undetected,” a senior administration official told Fox News Digital. A defense official on Saturday said Chinese spy balloons briefly traveled over the United States at least three times during the Trump administration. TRUMP, TOP NATIONAL SECURITY OFFICIALS REFUTE CLAIM THAT CHINESE SPY BALLOONS TRANSITED US UNDER LAST ADMIN Former President Trump and a number of his top national security and defense officials refuted Biden administration officials’ claims that Chinese surveillance balloons briefly transited the continental United States during the Trump administration, telling Fox News Digital that it “never happened.” But on Sunday, a senior administration official told Fox News Digital that “U.S. intelligence, not the Biden administration” assesses that “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.” “They went undetected,” the official told Fox News Digital. The official said this is “part of a larger pattern.” “These balloons are all part of a PRC fleet of balloons developed to conduct surveillance operations, which have also violated the sovereignty of other countries,” the official explained, adding that these activities are “often undertaken at the direction of the People’s Liberation Army.” The official said that over the past several years, Chinese balloons have been spotted over countries across five continents, including in East Asia, South Asia, and Europe. “Two things can be true at once: this happened and it wasn’t detected,” the official told Fox News Digital. U.S. officials told Fox News on Sunday that a Chinese spy balloon crashed into the Pacific off the coast of Hawaii four months ago. Those officials said that at least one Chinese spy balloon flew over portions of Texas and Florida during the Trump administration. MILITARY EXPERTS PROVIDE FRANK ASSESSMENT OF US SHORTCOMINGS IN POTENTIAL CHINA CONFLICT But Trump and his top national security and defense officials told Fox News Digital they were never briefed on something like that happening, stressing that it did not occur, and saying the Biden administration is spreading disinformation. “This never happened. It would have never happened,” Trump told Fox News Digital on Sunday morning, adding that Beijing “respected us greatly” under his leadership. “It never happened with us under the Trump administration and if it did, we would have shot it down immediately,” Trump said. “It’s disinformation.” Trump said the Biden administration is spreading this because “they look so bad, as usual.” “They are incompetent,” he said. Former Trump White House national security adviser John Bolton told Fox News Digital that he never heard of anything like this under his tenure. “I don’t know of any balloon flights by any power over the United States during my tenure, and I’d never heard of any of that occurring before I joined in 2018,” Bolton said. “I haven’t heard of anything that occurred after I left either.” Bolton said that if the Biden administration has “specific examples, they need to tell Congress.” He added: “I can say with 100% certainty not during my tenure.” US MISSILE BURSTS CHINESE SPY BALLOON OVER ATLANTIC OCEAN OFF THE COAST OF SOUTH CAROLINA Robert O’Brien, wh served as White House national security adviser from 2019 to 2021, told Fox News Digital that he had no knowledge of anything like this occurring. “Unequivocally, I have never been briefed on the issue,” O’Brien said, telling Fox News Digital that his team, which included Matt Pottinger, who served as deputy national security adviser, and Allison Hooker, who served as senior adviser to Asia, also were not briefed on these activities. Former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell, who led the intelligence community at the onset of COVID, told Fox News Digital that he did “one of the biggest intelligence deep dives on China, their spying and the origins of COVID” during his tenure. “It never came up,” he said. “If a balloon had come up, we would have known. Someone in the intelligence community would have known, and it would have bubbled up to me to brief the president.”  And former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, who lead ODNI after Grenell and through the end of the Trump administration, also refuted the claim.  “It’s not true. I can refute it,” Ratcliffe said on “Sunday Morning Futures.” “The American people can refute it for themselves. Do you remember during the Trump administration, when photographers on the ground and commercial airline pilots were talking about a spy balloon over the United States that people could look up and see, even with the naked eye, and that a media that hated Donald Trump wasn’t reporting?”  He added: “I don’t remember that either, because it didn’t happen.”  Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia Heino Klinck told Fox News Digital that he also was unaware. “I can’t rule out that things occurred that I was unaware of, but I do think something like this, I would have been aware of,” Klinck said. Former Trump Defense Secretary Mark Esper also said he was never told about Chinese surveillance balloons above the United States during his time at the Pentagon. CHINESE SPY BALLOON MAY HAVE GATHERED ‘UNSEEN’ INFORMATION, EXPERTS SAY “I don’t ever recall somebody coming into my office or reading anything that the Chinese had a surveillance balloon above the United States,” Esper said during an appearance on CNN. “I would remember that for sure.” And former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, who had previously served as director of the National Counterterrorism Center, also told Fox News he never had heard of a Chinese spy balloon while he was in government.”  “Never heard a whisper and I have to think if anything like that happened that would have been a huge issue,” Miller told Fox News Digital. “No. Absolutely never heard of anything like that while I was in government or at the Pentagon.” It is unclear, at this point, if these activities did take place, and if it was military leadership that chose not to brief civilian leadership on the matter.  Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report. 
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Miami Black leaders apologize to Gov. Ron DeSantis after a member called him racist

Black leaders in Miami apologized to Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis after one of its members called him a racist. Pierre Rutledge, chair of the Miami-Dade Black Affairs Advisory Board, issued a statement on behalf of his board that apologized to DeSantis for a comment made at their Wednesday meeting from a member who said, “our governor is racist.” “We take it to heart when someone uses the term racist,” Rutledge said Friday. “Words matter. And so as chair, I must start by saying we want to pull that back. There’s nothing wrong with saying ‘we’re sorry.’ That’s not what we intended to say or be depicted by anyone. And that’s not the feeling of this board.” The accusations of racism against DeSantis came as the board criticized the governor’s rejection of an African American History advanced placement course due to content of Black Lives Matter and queer issues. The College Board removed aspects of the course Wednesday that were opposed by DeSantis, and the course will be reevaluated by the Florida Department of Education to determine if it is appropriate for schools.  CRITICS ACCUSE DESANTIS OF ERASING ‘ALL OF BLACK HISTORY,’ HARMING STUDENTS BY BLOCKING AP COURSE DeSantis continued to back the decision from his Department of Education to remove the African American History course, which he said pushes a political agenda. “This course on Black history, what’s one of the lessons about? Queer theory,” DeSantis said. “Now, who would say that an important part of Black history is queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda.” CONTROVERSIAL AP AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES COURSE STRIPPED OF ‘WOKE’ CONTENT AFTER CRITICISM FROM FLORIDA’S DOE DeSantis has taken a series of actions as governor to limit Critical Race Theory and queer theories from being taught in public schools. The issue gained national attention when he signed the Parental Rights in Education bill, which banned lessons on gender identity in third grade and below. FLORIDA PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES SPENT $15 MILLION OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS ON CRT, DIVERSITY INITIATIVES: REPORT Black leaders and Democrats in Florida have pledged to defend the course and keep it in schools. Protesters will rally on February 16 at the state Capitol in Tallahassee.  “Black history matters,” said Rev. R.B. Holmes, pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist, in an announcement of the rally. “Black history is not inferior. And Black history does not lack educational value.”
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White House economic advisor cites job report as proof U.S. is ‘not recessionary’

White House Economic Adviser Jared Bernstein told “Fox News Sunday” that the January job report is evidence that the U.S. is not experiencing a recession. “My point is that 3.4% unemployment is not recessionary,” Bernstein said. “Half a million jobs in January is not recessionary. 2.9% on GDP at the end of last year is not recessionary.” The White House continues to cite positive job reports to counter voter concerns over historic levels of inflation and gas prices — an approach President Biden is likely to emphasize in his State of the Union address Tuesday. The unemployment rate hit its lowest level since 1969, while inflation is at its highest level in four decades.  Bernstein emphasized Sunday that while inflation and gas prices are still a concern, they declined over the past year, which he attributed to actions from Biden. JANUARY JOBS REPORT RELEASED SHOWCASES THE BIGGEST GAIN IN 5 MONTHS “The rate of inflation has fallen six months in a row,” Bernstein said, claiming that this is in part due to “actions this president has taken to shore up and unsnarl our supply chains, and to increase the supply of energy furthermore and moving into 2023 as the Inflation Reduction Act kicks in.” BIDEN DRAGGED FOR TOUTING GAS PRICE DROP AS AMERICANS STRUGGLE TO MAKE ENDS MEET: ‘WHAT PLANET ARE YOU ON?’ The inflation rate went from 7% in 2021 to 6.5% in 2022. Gas prices peaked at more than $5 per gallon last year and hit $3.60 in January. Bernstein dismissed reports that gas prices could hike again to $4 per gallon. “I think it’s very hard to look that far around the corner,” Bernstein said. “I think the president has taken decisive action and showed that he can provide some breathing room for people at the pump. The gas price, which is such an important price in our economy, is down $1.50 from its peak in June of last year, and that means real breathing room for working Americans.” Bernstein made the White House message clear ahead of the State of the Union that Americans should expect their monthly costs to improve. “Prices are high but they are moving in the right direction,” Bernstein said.
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Rubio says Biden waiting to tell American public about Chinese balloon a ‘dereliction of duty’

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Sunday that President Biden’s failures in dealing with the Chinese spy balloon that was shot down off the East Coast started with his decision not to brief the American public early on about the balloon’s existence. During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Rubio, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, expressed incredulity at why the Biden administration waited until Thursday to announce it was tracking the balloon, five days after it entered U.S. airspace north of the Aleutian Islands, and it wasn’t shot down until Saturday after being allowed to drift across the continental United States. Rubio said he agreed with comments by fellow Republicans that the administration’s handling of the incident was an abdication fo responsibility. “I think the dereliction of duty begins with this,” Rubio said, “Why not on Tuesday or Wednesday – you know people are gonna see this. At some point, you’re gonna have to disclose it, and they probably didn’t want to, because they didn’t want to have their hands forced on canceling this Blinken visit, so they didn’t have to talk about it. But why didn’t the president go on television?” CRITICS SEE CHINESE SPY BALLOON A S BIDEN’S LATEST POLICY BLUNDER “Presidents have the ability to go before camera, go before the nation and basically explain these things early on, and the failure to do so – I don’t understand that,” he continued. “I don’t understand why he wouldn’t do that, and that is the beginning of dereliction of duty.” “The second is, you have to act swiftly on these things,” he added. “I think that’s part of the one of the things the Chinese are trying to message, and that is the U.S. had to see this coming and decided they couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything about it early on, and how they had to wait until this thing went across the middle of the country.” BIDEN SAYS HE AUTHORIZED PENTAGON DAYS AGO TO SHOOT DOWN CHINESE SPY BALLOON “And what are we going to do the next time this happens?” he asked. “Are we going to allow it to fly through here again and shoot it down once it gets to the East Coast? I mean, these are questions the White House needs to answer, and I don’t think these are partisan claims I’m making. I think there would be a broad agreement that we need to know moving forward what our policy is going to be with regards to this.” Chinese officials have claimed the balloon was a civilian craft gone adrift but U.S. officials insist it was a surveillance vessel, and it was finally shot down by an F-22 pilot off the coast of Surfside Beach, S.C., on Saturday afternoon. Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a planned trip to Beijing due to the incident, while Republicans hammered Biden for failing to shoot down the balloon earlier. The White House said that Biden followed the advice of the Pentagon and top military leaders not to shoot the craft down over the U.S. in case it caused civilian casualties and other collateral damage. Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.
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Pete Buttigieg says Biden handled Chinese spy balloon ‘appropriately’ amid backlash from Republicans

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday defended President Biden’s handling of the Chinese spy balloon that flew across the United States over the course of several days before the U.S. military shot it down Saturday, saying it was “handled appropriately.” “As the U.S has communicated, it’s not acceptable at all that China sent this object into our airspace, but in terms of how to handle it, that’s something that was done based on assessment of the risks, making sure that there was no risk that outweighed the risks in terms of any damage that would come and it was handled appropriately,” Buttigieg said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He would go on to praise the mission to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon as being done in a “very effective” and “excellent” way. Host Jake Tapper later pressed Buttigieg on when Biden first learned that the Chinese spy balloon entered U.S. airspace, prompting him to say, “I really can’t speak to that.” US MILITARY SHOOTS DOWN CHINESE SPY BALLOON OVER ATLANTIC OCEAN “What I can speak to is the great cooperation we have between the FAA and the Pentagon to make sure we that when you have a special military operation like what it took to bring down this balloon, that it happens without any threat to American lives and property,” Buttigieg said. Buttigieg’s comments come a day after U.S. military fighter jets shot down the balloon off the coast of South Carolina. A senior U.S. military official said that an F-22 was used to bring down the balloon at 58,000 feet, adding that a single A9X missile was fired. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement after the balloon was shot down that “President Biden gave his authorization to take down the surveillance balloon as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to American lives under the balloon’s path.” Despite the balloon being shot down, Biden received backlash from Republicans who criticized him for allowing the balloon to fly across U.S. airspace for multiple days and not shooting the balloon down sooner. REPUBLICAN DEMANDS JOE BIDEN, KAMALA HARRIS RESIGN AFTER ‘CATASTROPHIC CHINESE SPY BALLOON SPECTACLE’ Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said Saturday that the Chinese spy balloon saga confirmed that both President Biden and Vice President Harris should resign from office. “The catastrophic Chinese Spy Balloon spectacle clearly threatened American families from Alaska to my home community in South Carolina and confirms President Biden and Vice President Harris should resign,” Wilson said in a tweet. “My call for their resignation was valid in August 2021 due to the surrender and disastrous withdrawal in Afghanistan, creating a safe haven for terrorists to attack American families.” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, echoed Fry’s sentiment saying the balloon “should have been taken out earlier, over remote areas of Alaska or Montana.”  “Not only was the Homeland Security Committee not informed of this CCP provocation before it broke on the news, but it has since come to light that officials were monitoring the balloon before it entered U.S. airspace and could have been shot down over the water before ever reaching our shores,” Republican Rep. Andrew Garbarino, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told Fox News Digital. “This was the CCP testing their boundaries and President Biden failed in his response.” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., added that it amounts to “negligence” if the U.S. is unable to recover information from the balloon due to the decision to wait until it was over the ocean. Nevertheless, Graham said the eventual decision to take it down was a “sound decision.”  In a statement to Fox News Digital, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said that Biden “abysmally failed” a test on the world stage. “The Chinese Communist spy balloon should never have been allowed to cross into our sovereign nation gathering intelligence,” Stefanik said. “The American people deserve to know why Joe Biden allowed this national security threat for so long, why he tried to hide it from the American people, and what information our foreign adversaries were gathering.” Fox News’ Adam Sabes , Jacqui Heinrich, Jennifer Griffin, Andrew Mark Miller, and Thomas Catenacci contributed reporting.
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Virginia GOP star vows to end Democrat ‘roadblock’ of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s agenda

A standout legislator in the state of Virginia with an eye for winning a newly drawn swing Senate district is vowing to end Democrats’ “roadblock” of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s agenda priorities. Virginia House Delegate Emily Brewer, who made history in 2017 by becoming the youngest female Republican elected in the state House Republican caucus, is running to represent the 17th State Senate District, and says its vital for the party to take down the Democrat majority clinging to power in the state legislature’s upper body. “I want to live in Virginia. I don’t want to live in California,” Brewer told Fox News Digital during an interview last week. “One of the things that I want to work on is making sure that we can take back the soul of Virginia and make sure we really, truly restore that pro-business environment.”  “It’s wonderful that we got Governor Young and elected, but that last piece that we have to do is we have to take back the Virginia Senate. We have horrible things that have killed businesses in Virginia that we have to repeal, and we won’t be able to do that without taking back the Senate,” she added.  ‘FED UP’ FORMER NASCAR DRIVER REVS UP RACE FOR VIRGINIA STATE SENATE SEAT Brewer described how “scary” it was that Virginia was trending in the direction of California when it came to things like electric vehicle standards and other “extreme policies” that Democrats put in place when they controlled both houses in the state legislature and the governor’s mansion prior to Youngkin’s election in 2021. She said there was no chance policies like that could be repealed until Democrats were ousted from control. “I would say that their focus, especially the Democrat Senate, has been just a roadblock. The governor not for sound policy. They’re not standing with their friends in Israel and the Jewish community, which is absolutely unconscionable. I can’t even believe that we’re even having this conversation or question,” Brewer said, referencing state Senate Democrats killing a bill last week that would have adopted a widely recognized definition of antisemitism, as well as combat the anti-Israel boycott movement. VA GOV. YOUNGKIN ASKS LAWMAKERS TO FILL A $201 MILLION SHORTFALL IN EDUCATION AID “Second, the Democratic Senate, it was spearheading the just radical policies that were just anti-victim and pro-criminal over the past three years,” she said, touting her work on legislation that she said would stop parole boards from letting people out of prison who were convicted of rape and murder. “We are just entering a space in Virginia where we’re dangling at a cliff. We need to pull it back and we need to make sure that we’re supporting victims over criminals. And the Democratic Senate in Virginia does not have any interest in that,” she added. Brewer expressed support for Youngkin’s tough-on-China approach, given the situation with the Chinese intelligence balloon flying over the U.S., and his desire to keep the Chinese Communist Party from purchasing farmland in Virginia as it has in other states. She added that she was also working on legislation to ban the use of TikTok and WeChat, two Chinese apps, on government devices in the state VIRGINIA BILL WOULD BAN TRANSGENDER ATHLETES FROM WOMEN’S SPORTS Brewer was unsure of Democrats’ stance when it came to China-related policy, but that they would find out when such bills came to the floor of the state Senate. “What’s so key that we have to fight hard to take back the Senate, to work on Governor Youngkin’s agenda, make Virginia the best place to work, live and raise a family, and truly get our commonwealth back on track,” she said. Brewer will face off against fellow Republican Hermie Sadler, a former NASCAR driver who has never held political office, at a party convention expected to be held sometime in the spring. CLICK HERE TO GET FOX NEWS APP In addition to her role in the Virginia House of Delegates, she has touted her experiencing running various small businesses, one of which she still owns in Suffolk, and says it’s what allows her to connect with everyday Virginians.
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Trump, top national security officials refute claim that Chinese spy balloons transited US under last admin

EXCLUSIVE: Former President Trump and a number of his top national security and defense officials refuted Biden administration officials’ claims that Chinese surveillance balloons briefly transited the continental United States during the Trump administration, saying it “never happened.”  A defense official on Saturday said Chinese spy balloons briefly traveled over the United States at least three times during the last administration. But Trump and his officials said that did not occur and criticized the Biden administration for spreading disinformation. MILITARY EXPERTS PROVIDE FRANK ASSESSMENT OF US SHORTCOMINGS IN POTENTIAL CHINA CONFLICT “This never happened. It would have never happened,” Trump told Fox News Digital on Sunday morning, adding that Beijing “respected us greatly” under his leadership. “It never happened with us under the Trump administration and if it did, we would have shot it down immediately,” Trump said. “Its disinformation.” Trump said the Biden administration is spreading this because “they look so bad, as usual.” “They are incompetent,” he said. Former Trump White House national security adviser Amb. John Bolton told Fox News Digital that he never heard of anything like this under his tenure. US MISSILE BURSTS CHINESE SPY BALLOON OVER ATLANTIC OCEAN OFF THE COAST OF SOUTH CAROLINA “I don’t know of any balloon flights by any power over the United States during my tenure, and I’d never heard of any of that occurring before I joined in 2018,” Bolton said. “I haven’t heard of anything that occurred after I left either.” Bolton said that if the Biden administration has “specific examples, they need to tell Congress.” He added: “I can say with 100% certainty not during my tenure.” And—Amb. Robert O’Brien, who also served as White House national security adviser from 2019 to 2021 told Fox News Digital that he had no knowledge of anything like this occurring. “Unequivocally, I have never been briefed on the issue,” O’Brien said, telling Fox News Digital that his team, which included Matt Pottinger, who served as deputy national security advisor, and Allison Hooker who served as senior advisor to Asia, also were not briefed on these activities. CHINESE SPY BALLOON MAY HAVE GATHERED ‘UNSEEN’ INFORMATION, EXPERTS SAY Former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell, who led the intelligence community at the onset of COVID, told Fox News Digital that he did “one of the biggest intelligence deep dives on China, their spying and the origins of COVID” during his tenure. “It never came up,” he said. “If a balloon had come up, we would have known. Someone in the intelligence community would have known, and it would have bubbled up to me to brief the president.”  And former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, who lead ODNI after Grenell and through the end of the Trump administration, also refuted the claim.  “It’s not true. I can refute it,” Ratcliffe said on “Sunday Morning Futures.” “The American people can refute it for themselves. Do you remember during the Trump administration, when photographers on the ground and commercial airline pilots were talking about a spy balloon over the United States that people could look up and see, even with the naked eye, and that a media that hated Donald Trump wasn’t reporting?”  He added: “I don’t remember that either, because it didn’t happen.”  Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia Heino Klinck told Fox News Digital that he also was unaware. “I can’t rule out that things occurred that I was unaware of, but I do think something like this, I would have been aware of,” Klinck said. THESE 5 CHINA INTELLIGENCE FAILURES ARE EVEN MORE DANGEROUS THAN THE CHINESE SPY BALLOON Former Trump Defense Secretary Mark Esper also said he was never told about Chinese surveillance balloons above the United States during his time at the Pentagon. “I don’t ever recall somebody coming into my office or reading anything that the Chinese had a surveillance balloon above the United States,” Esper said during an appearance on CNN. “I would remember that for sure.” And former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, who had previously served as director of the National Counterterrorism Center, also told Fox News he never had heard of a Chinese spy balloon while he was in government.”  “Never heard a whisper and I have to think if anything like that happened that would have been a huge issue,” Miller told Fox News Digital. “No. Absolutely never heard of anything like that while I was in government or at the Pentagon.” It is unclear, at this point, if these activities did take place, and if it was military leadership that chose not to brief civilian leadership on the matter.  The Pentagon did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. The balloon was shot down on Saturday off the coast of South Carolina, after traveling for days over the continental United States. Senior defense officials said Saturday was the first time the U.S. had the chance to shoot down the balloon over water. Officials could have shot the balloon down over Montana and northern U.S. states, but out of an abundance of caution, chose to wait until it was transiting over water to prevent any risk to civilians or civilian property. The military and intelligence community recovery efforts are underway. Fox News has learned that the FBI will play a role in the recovery efforts, and debris could be brought to Quantico for review.
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Rep. Mike Rogers offers succinct GOP assessment of Chinese spy flight

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., offered a succinct GOP response to President Biden’s handling of the Chinese spy balloon that crossed the United States this weekend, praising the actions of the military but demanding answers from the White House on why they took so long to act. Rogers, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, argues that the Biden administration had “hoped to hide” the existence of the balloon from Americans as it crossed from the West Coast to the East Coast. The lawmaker blasted Biden as weak for allowing the balloon to traverse the country before shooting it down, questioning what intelligence the craft may have gathered. “I applaud our servicemembers for completing a successful mission to neutralize a spy balloon sent by the Chinese Communist Party,” Rogers wrote in a statement. “I remain deeply concerned by the Biden administration’s decision to allow the spy balloon to traverse the United States.” “The Biden administration reportedly learned of the CCP spy balloon on January 28th – nearly a week before residents in Montana spotted the balloon loitering over their state. It’s clear the Biden administration had hoped to hide this national security failure from Congress and the American people. Now, the White House must provide answers about why they decided to allow a CCP spy balloon to cross the United States and what damage to our national security occurred from this decision. The United States must project strength to deter China – this failure is another example of weakness by the Biden administration,” he continued. CHINA SPY BALLOON SHOWS COUNTRY IS PREPARING CITIZENS FOR WAR THAT COULD COME ‘AT ANY POINT’ The White House has yet to respond to Republican critics in Congress, who could open an investigation of the incident in the House. Rogers’ statement comes after China fumed over the loss of its balloon Saturday. The U.S. is currently recovering the remains of the craft for inspection. “China strongly disapproves of and protests against the U.S. attack on a civilian unmanned airship by force,” China’s Foreign Ministry said. “The Chinese side has, after verification, repeatedly informed the U.S. side of the civilian nature of the airship and conveyed that its entry into the U.S. due to force majeure was totally unexpected.” “The Chinese side has clearly asked the U.S. side to properly handle the matter in a calm, professional and restrained manner,” it added. “The spokesperson of the U.S. Department of Defense also noted that the balloon does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground.” AIR FORCE WARNS CHINESE COMPANY’S NORTH DAKOTA MILL WOULD BE ‘SIGNIFICANT’ NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT Biden ordered that the balloon be shot down as soon as it was safe on Wednesday. Military officials held off on the operation until the craft was over open water to prevent collateral damage. In doing so, however, the administration allowed the balloon to cross the entire continental United States. “After careful analysis, U.S. military commanders had determined downing the balloon while over land posed an undue risk to people across a wide area due to the size and altitude of the balloon and its surveillance payload,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement. “In accordance with the President’s direction, the Department of Defense developed options to take down the balloon safely over our territorial waters, while closely monitoring its path and intelligence collection activities.”
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