During an appearance on “CNN Newsroom” Thursday, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) charged that the U.S. government has zero knowledge of what intel China may have gathered with its alleged spy balloon. Thus far, officials have not provided a follow-up to substantiate their claims that no information of significance was taken by China.
Show host Bianna Golodryga asked, “Officials also say that they’re confident that the balloon didn’t get any sensitive data on U.S. nuclear sites. But they also weren’t able to provide any specifics as to what information the balloon did glean. What do you make of that, and do you get a sense that you will get some of that information?”
“I think we will get some,” answered Stewart. “And so, there [are] actually two questions there, to the first one, they’re confident that they didn’t get sensitive information. We don’t know that at all. I mean, as you know, this thing hovered or loitered for quite a while over one of our missile fields and we just don’t know what information they gleaned or what information they were able to transmit. They’ve also said –.”
Golodryga interrupted the congressman, asking, “So, did they provide any follow-up as to that claim that there was no sensitive information that the balloon got?”
“No, not at all,” replied Stewart. “And they just don’t know that yet…and we may never know what information they were able to glean from that.”
At the beginning of his segment with Golodryga, Stewart said that the U.S. government should have intercepted and destroyed the alleged Chinese spy balloon before it entered the nation’s airspace. The Utah representative made similar claims prior to Thursday during a different CNN appearance with anchor Wolf Blitzer:
The balloon never should have been allowed to loiter over American soil for one second. pic.twitter.com/L1JyhIJyvD
— Rep. Chris Stewart (@RepChrisStewart) February 7, 2023
Rep. Stewart has harshly criticized other foreign policy decisions by the Biden administration, including its repeated use of taxpayer money to fund the Russia-Ukraine war. After congressional approval of an additional $12 billion in Ukraine aid brought U.S. spending to a cumulative total of at least $54 billion back in Oct. 2022, Stewart questioned what the nation is even trying to accomplish with its involvement in the war.
As he wrote in an opinion piece for Fox News:
But now, with Congress passing an additional $12 billion in Ukraine aid, I believe the time has come to ask a series of critical questions. What is America’s strategy in Ukraine? What is our goal? Can we achieve that goal without pushing Putin to use, in his own words, “all available means” at his disposal?