Missouri Sen. Eric Schmitt calls for investigation into Biden admin’s ‘alarming’ handling of Chinese balloon
EXCLUSIVE: Missouri GOP Sen. Eric Schmitt sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin regarding the Chinese spy balloon that is hovering over the state, saying the Biden administration’s ‘lack of transparency is alarming’ and called for an investigation into the matter.
‘As I write, a Chinese asset hovers over the great State of Missouri. This is potentially a grave threat to national security that the Biden Administration is allowing to violate U.S. airspace, while failing to provide critical details for the American people,’ Schmitt wrote.
‘The lack of transparency is alarming. The Department of Defense has told the public very little about the Chinese asset. The Department of Defense has said it is a Chinese balloon; it is over the central United States; it is carrying surveillance gear as well as a payload; it has the ability to maneuver; and a decision was made to not shoot it down. The Department of Defense has said that ‘instances of this activity have been observed over the past several years, including prior to this administration.’’
Schmitt, who previously served as attorney general of Missouri and was elected to the Senate last November, blamed the Pentagon for refusing to answer questions about the balloon’s exact location.
‘Without answers to these critical questions, it is difficult to understand why the Biden Administration decided to allow an asset from a foreign adversary ot invade U.S. airspace,’ he added. ‘The Department of Defense says that this Chinese asset ‘has violated U.S. airspace and international law, which is unacceptable.’ But despite this violation of our nation’s airspace, the Department of Defense has taken no action to stop the Chinese asset from proceeding to pass over, and likely surveil, some of our most sensitive military sites.’
Noting the importance of the situation, Schmitt pointed out in his letter to Lloyd that Whiteman Air Force Base, the home of the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, is located in Missouri.
‘The Chinese asset appears to have passed close to Whiteman. Yet nothing was done to stop the asset from reaching Missouri,’ Schmitt wrote.
‘I request an immediate briefing for my colleagues so that we can provide constitutional oversight,’ he added.
‘The fact that a Chinese spy balloon is able to fly in American airspace completely undeterred is absolutely ridiculous,’ Schmitt told Fox News Digital. ‘The Biden Administration needs to answer why this Chinese spy balloon was not taken down over a sparsely populated area before it moved deep into the United States interior, or why they continue to allow it to fly.’
Schmitt said one would ‘be naive not to think China is attempting to observe critical military installations across the country and in Missouri, such as Whiteman Air Force base – a vital asset in ensuring America’s nuclear preparedness and home to the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.’
‘We need answers from President Biden, Secretary Austin, and this administration immediately,’ he added.
Defense Department spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Friday that the Chinese surveillance balloon, which China claims is a civilian reconnaissance airship that inadvertently drifted off course and was first reported to be hovering over Montana, had ‘changed its course’ and moved to the central part of the country. But he declined to get into specifics about its location.
The National Weather Service in Kansas City, Missouri, posted photos of a large balloon visible from its office in Pleasant Hill that appeared to be headed southeast. ‘We have confirmed that it is not an NWS weather balloon,’ NWS Kansas City said.
In a Friday statement, Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson said he has had ‘zero communication’ from the Biden administration about the balloon.
Fox News Digital reached out to the White House about Parson’s remarks, but did not receive an immediate response. The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Schmitt’s letter.
Hours before Ryder’s remarks, officials said the balloon sat above Billings, Montana, potentially giving the Biden administration ample time to act on the situation before it moved into more populated areas of the country.
The Pentagon said that it considered taking down the possible threat from China, but ultimately decided against any action due to ‘the risk to safety and security of people on the ground from the possible debris field.’
Senior State Department officials have called the incident ‘unacceptable,’ and Secretary of State Antony Blinken has indefinitely postponed a planned trip to China to meet President Xi Jinping in light of the circumstances.
A senior U.S. Defense official told Fox News the balloon was launched from mainland China.
‘This was intentional,’ the senior U.S. official said.
Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo contributed to this article.