ABC anchor calls out Sen. Marco Rubio during tense exchange over Chinese spy balloon: 'This happened 3 times under the previous president'
ABC's Jonathan Karl called out Sen. Marco Rubio during a tense exchange about the Chinese spy balloon.
Rubio said Biden should not have "waited so long" to tell people about the balloon.
But Karl said Trump did not disclose three balloon sightings that happened during his term.
ABC anchor Jonathan Karl called out Sen. Marco Rubio during a tense exchange on Sunday about the Chinese spy balloon.
During Rubio's appearance on ABC's "This Week," the Florida senator was asked if President Joe Biden should have acted against the military's advice and shot the suspected spy balloon down over the US mainland. The balloon was spotted floating over Montana, near a nuclear missile base.
Rubio conceded that falling debris from the balloon "could hurt, harm, or kill people." But the senator also hit out at Biden for what he said was weakness in the face of China's provocations.
"I don't know why they waited so long to tell people about this, and they knew the trajectory that it was on it seems from late last week, or early last week," said Rubio, the vice-chairman of the Senate intelligence committee.
In response, Karl said former President Donald Trump did not disclose three different sightings of Chinese balloons during his term.
"And we're also told, by the way, that this happened three times under the previous president," Karl said. "Obviously, there were no public notifications there."
Rubio did not respond to Karl's rebuttal on-air and thanked Karl before the segment ended.
The Chinese balloon in question was shot down by the Air Force over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday. And while Republicans have argued that Trump would have shot down the balloon sooner to send a message to China, senior Pentagon officials said on Saturday that balloons from China moved into US air space at least three times during Trump's term. The officials did not say if these balloons were shot down.
"PRC government surveillance balloons transited the continental United States 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," a senior defense official said at the Pentagon's news conference.
The Trump administration might not have known about the three previous instances of balloons crossing into US airspace. Senior defense officials told both The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post that the sightings were only discovered "after the prior administration left."
Trump has denied that any balloons crossed into US airspace during his term.
"It never happened with us under the Trump administration and if it did, we would have shot it down immediately," Trump told Fox News Digital. "It's disinformation."
Trump has also been ranting about the Chinese balloon on his Truth Social page.
"The Chinese would never have floated the Blimp ("Balloon") over the United States if I were President!!!" Trump wrote on Sunday night.
Representatives for Rubio and Trump did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.
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