Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich suggested Monday while on Fox News that President Joe Biden is simply a “suggester in chief” after the military allegedly shot down Biden’s request to down the Chinese spy balloon.
The Biden administration shot down the Chinese spy balloon Saturday after it spent several days moving eastward over highly sensitive sites. The balloon was spotted above Montana, which is home to the Malmstrom Air Force Base, where Minuteman III nuclear missiles are kept.
The balloon was first detected on Jan. 28 as it floated over Alaska before making its way through Canada and eventually back over the continental U.S. Biden was informed of the balloon on Tuesday and subsequently ordered the Pentagon to take down the balloon as soon as it was safe. The Pentagon said taking the balloon down posed a risk to those on the ground, prompting officials to wait until the balloon was over the water.
Gingrich criticized Biden’s response.
“First of all, these balloons are extraordinarily dangerous because you could put an electric magnetic pulse weapon on them, float them across, explode them where you want to,” Gingrich said. (RELATED: ‘Where Are You Getting That Information?’: MSNBC Host Presses Dem On Trump Balloon Claim)
“I mean, we have no idea what the Chinese are doing. And it was a huge risk to allow it. But there’s an internal question here. When the military learned about it, apparently there’s a three or four day period where they don’t tell the president. When the president learns about it, he says, ‘shoot it down,’” Gingrich said.
“And the American military says, you know, you’re not really the commander in chief. You’re kind of a suggester in chief and we’re not going to do it. And so if you believe the White House, the president on Wednesday ordered it to be shot down and the American military just ignored him. That’s pretty extraordinary if true,” he added.
China has claimed ownership of the craft but insisted it was a weather balloon that veered off course. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Biden Administration’s decision to use armed forces to shoot down the balloon was “clearly an excessive reaction that seriously violates international convention.”