John Bolton wants ‘all the details’ in briefing on Trump-era balloons

Last updated on February 14, 2023

The Biden administration on Wednesday will brief John Bolton about the Chinese spy balloons that flew into U.S. airspace during the Trump administration, and the former national security adviser said he plans to “ask for all the details, top to bottom.”

Bolton told POLITICO the session will take place at 4:30 p.m. at the Liberty Crossing Intelligence Campus in Virginia, and as of now, it’s unclear when the session will end. He didn’t disclose who specifically would conduct the briefing or whether he’ll be joined by Trump administration colleagues for the session.

After a Chinese spy balloon traversed the United States two weeks ago, the Biden administration claimed similar intrusions occurred three times while Donald Trump was in office and once previously with Joe Biden in charge. Bolton and his Trump administration colleagues initially rejected that premise, noting they had never been briefed when they were in the administration.

Now Bolton, who is weighing a 2024 presidential run, promised to “ask for all the details, top to bottom, on what the record indicates about Chinese or other aerial incursions during the Trump administration.”

“I want to know whether overflights during the Trump administration were detected or not detected. If they were detected, what were they assessed to be, and who made that assessment? How far up the chain of command did the information and assessments go?” he continued.

Bolton first discussed his upcoming briefing with NBC News.

The former U.N. ambassador blasted Biden’s team, specifically National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, for continually bringing up the Trump-era balloon flights. “If the White House thinks this is a way to build confidence in their response to the recent incursions, it is sadly mistaken,” he said.

Kirby responded to Bolton’s comments during a session with reporters Tuesday. “All we’re doing is speaking the truth. This is a well-funded, deliberate program to collect intelligence on other nations, including us,” he said. “The reason we know that is because of the work we’ve done since we came into office to understand this program” and “decipher how these balloons operate”

Kirby further told reporters that the three objects hovering above the U.S. and Canada and shot down by the military last weekend could be “balloons tied to some commercial work.”

Biden administration officials briefed senators Tuesday morning on the latest information regarding the Chinese spy balloon and the downed objects.