Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) says President Biden needs to explain to the American public what U.S. fighter jets shot down over Alaska, Canada and Michigan in recent days, which the military has only vaguely referred to as “objects.”
“The president owes the American people an explanation, direct and on camera, of what we know about these ‘objects’ and what steps he’s taking to protect America’s sovereign airspace,” Cotton said in a statement Monday.
“No commander-in-chief should hide behind press secretaries and anonymous sources in a time of crisis,” he said.
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Lawmakers are demanding answers on what the three objects were and where they came from after they were shot down over a three-day span, roughly a week after the U.S. military took down a suspected Chinese spy balloon.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the military was not able to gain access to the downed objects because of weather conditions.
Cotton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has emerged as a sharp critic of the president’s handling of the Chinese surveillance balloon that drifted across the United States earlier in the month.
He says the Biden administration should have ordered the balloon shot down over Alaska instead of waiting to let it float off the coast of South Carolina before taking it out.
“We all know it was a spy balloon trying to collect information across the United States. I will say that you don’t know that in advance though,” he told reporters after senators received a briefing on the balloon from administration officials last week. “That’s why we shouldn’t let Chinese aircraft float on their merry way all across the United States.”
Cotton said Monday that Biden’s response to the Chinese balloon that dominated the news last week was not consistent with how he reacted to the three objects over Alaska, Canada and Michigan, though those objects are reportedly much smaller than the balloon, which was about 200 feet tall and weighed roughly 2,000 pounds.
“After allowing a Chinese spy balloon to fly across America when we could’ve downed it off the Aleutian Islands, President Biden has now downed three ‘objects’ despite claiming last week that would’ve posed unacceptable risks to public safety.
“The president owes the American people an explanation, direct and on camera, of what we know about these ‘objects’ and what steps he’s taking to protect America’s sovereign airspace. Justin Trudeau did that, so surely Joe Biden can. No commander-in-chief should hide behind press secretaries and anonymous sources in a time of crisis,” he said.