Trump claims China wouldn’t send spy balloon over US during his presidency, contradicting US intelligence

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Donald Trump has again claimed that China wouldn’t have sent a spy balloon over the United States during his presidency, despite the US air force revealing that they had.

In an interview with Sean Hannity, Mr Trump was asked how he would have handled the discovery of the Chinese spy balloon, which traversed across the country before being shot down in February over the Atlantic Ocean.

“I wouldn’t have done anything with the balloon because it wouldn’t have happened under me,” the former president claimed.

Mr Trump assured Mr Hannity that “[China] wouldn’t have done it… Just like Putin would have never gone into Ukraine.”

“I don’t like people who say ‘oh they fear me’ like a schmuck. I don’t want to say it. But did they fear me? I suspect they did,” Mr Trump said.

The former president’s claim comes nearly two months after the Pentagon revealed Chinese spy balloons entered US airspace three times during his presidency.

The Defence Department said in a statement in early February that “Chinese balloons briefly transited the continental United States at least three times during the prior administration”.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the Biden administration was able to retroactively identify the presence of Chinese balloons in US airspace during Trump’s term after the US ”[enhanced] our surveillance of our territorial airspace.”

“We enhanced our capacity to be able to detect things that the Trump administration was unable to detect,” he added.

“We were able to go back and look at the historical patterns” and uncover “multiple instances” during the Trump administration in which Chinese surveillance balloons traversed American airspace and territory,” Mr Sullivan said, speaking at an event hosted by the US Global Leadership Coalition.

In early February, President Joe Biden ordered the US military to take down a surveillance balloon from China after it travelled over much of the continental United States.

The balloon became a public spectacle with lawmakers and citizens wondering what information the balloon was collecting and why the massive balloon wasn’t taken down sooner. Much of the debate led to criticism of the Biden Administration.

During Mr Trump’s interview with Mr Hannity, he also claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin would not have invaded Ukraine had he been president - a claim he has made before.