Former national security adviser John Bolton is reportedly accepting the Biden administration’s offer to brief him on Chinese spy balloon incidents that took place during Donald Trump’s presidency.
Bolton’s representative confirmed to The Hill that Bolton will issue a statement after the briefing, set for Wednesday. He will be briefed by the office of the director of national intelligence, according to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.
President Joe Biden’s administration said in the uproar that followed the announcement this month that a Chinese spy balloon was floating over the country that at least three other Chinese surveillance balloons flew over the U.S. when Trump was president. Another one floated over the U.S. earlier in Biden’s administration, the Pentagon said.
Bolton and other former Trump officials claimed they had no knowledge of the earlier incidents. Biden’s team offered to brief Trump officials about the balloons and Bolton accepted.
Bolton has said he has “a long list of questions.”
“We have barely scratched the surface on the Chinese balloons,” Bolton wrote in a op-ed for the New York Post Sunday.
The U.S., which shot down the spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4, also has shot down three lower-altitude flying objects in the past week over Alaska, Canada and Lake Huron.
John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, said the White House has discovered a wider surveillance program by China’s military using high-altitude balloons.
“It was operating during the previous administration, but they did not detect it,” Kirby told reporters at Monday’s White House briefing. “We detected it. We tracked it. And we have been carefully studying it to learn as much as we can.”
Kirby also sought to explain why the U.S. acted quickly to shoot down the still-unidentified smaller objects, but waited longer to take down the balloon.
We assessed “that their altitudes were considerably lower than the Chinese high-altitude balloon and did pose a threat to civilian commercial air traffic,” Kirby said. “And while we have no specific reason to suspect that they were conducting surveillance of any kind, we couldn’t rule that out.”