As news surfaced that there may be a Chinese surveillance balloon hovering over the northern U.S., Republicans have seized on the headlines, pointing to it as proof that President Joe Biden and the Defense Department failed to protect national security.
Following the news, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called for the Department of Defense to brief the Gang of Eight, Congress’s top eight members with security clearance, to receive classified intelligence from the executive branch.
Responding to a tweet from CBS of the breaking news, McCarthy tweeted, “China’s brazen disregard for U.S. sovereignty is a destabilizing action” that should be addressed, noting that “Biden cannot be silent.”
He then requested “a Gang of Eight briefing.”
By Friday (January 3) morning, former President Donald Trump took to Truth Social to call for the Defense Department to “SHOOT DOWN THE BALLOON,” echoing remarks other Republicans made earlier.
On Thursday (February 2), Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tweeted, “Biden should shoot down the Chinese spy balloon immediately.”
Greene also insisted that “President Trump would have never tolerated this,” adding that “Trump would have never tolerated many things happening to America.”
Earlier on Thursday (February 2), the Pentagon identified the “high altitude surveillance balloon” but revealed it wouldn’t be shooting it down because falling debris would be a risk to those on the ground.
Despite the Pentagon’s assertions that the aircraft was a Chinese surveillance balloon, the Chinese Foreign Ministry released a statement on Friday (January 3) that insisted that the aircraft identified was a civilian research ship studying weather that blew off course.