EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., blasted the Biden administration shortly after receiving a closed-door briefing Monday from senior officials regarding the Chinese spy flight crisis.
The classified briefing was ‘unspecific, insufficient and backward-looking,’ failing to adequately address the Chinese spy balloon that flew across the U.S. last week, according to Issa’s office. During the briefing, which was held in a sensitive compartmented information facility, officials also didn’t provide evidence of similar flights taking place during the Trump administration.
‘What I took away from this briefing confirmed that this administration and not the previous one had plenty of advance warning of an escalating Chinese espionage program, failed to act, and has now humiliated this country on the world stage,’ Issa, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Fox News Digital.
Fox News Digital has reached out to the White House for comment.
On Thursday, the Pentagon acknowledged that a Chinese spy balloon carrying intelligence-gathering sensors and equipment had been detected flying above Montana. Officials said the device had first been detected five days earlier off the western coast of Alaska before flying across the state, into Canada and entering the continental United States in Idaho.
Then, on Saturday, after the balloon continued its flight through several Midwestern and southeastern states, a U.S. fighter jet shot it down off the coast of South Carolina in the Atlantic Ocean. The unmanned surveillance aircraft had ultimately gone seven days from the time it was first detected over the Pacific Ocean to the moment it was taken down.
One day later, a senior Biden administration official said Chinese spy flights occurred during the Trump administration, but such information was discovered after former President Donald Trump left office. However, Trump and several top Trump administration officials refuted the claim, saying it ‘never happened.’
While President Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin explained the delayed response was to protect Americans who may have been harmed were the balloon to fall on land, Issa and other Republican lawmakers have criticized the administration for being too weak and indecisive.
‘U.S. officials have acknowledged they were monitoring this balloon since it flew over the Aleutian Islands – where it could have easily been shot down over water,’ House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said in a statement. ‘This balloon should have never been allowed to enter U.S. airspace.’
Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the incident was enough to warrant Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to resign.
‘On Wednesday, when I was briefed on the balloon, I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down, on Wednesday, as soon as possible,’ Biden told reporters Saturday. ‘They decided — without doing damage to anyone on — on the ground. They decided that the best time to do that was as it got over water, outside — within our — within the 12-mile limit.’
Austin said in a statement that the balloon, which was being used to surveil ‘strategic sites’ in the U.S., was an ‘unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.’
Fox News Digital reporter Brooke Singman contributed to this report.