- US President Donald Trump requested aides pressure the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration into issuing a clarification to justify his false claims about Hurricane Dorian hitting Alabama, according to The New York Times.
- Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney reportedly relayed Trump’s order to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who authorized the release of a statement correcting weather forecasters who had contradicted the president.
- Trump has gone to great lengths to insist that he was correct to say Alabama was initially forecast to be hit by Hurricane Dorian, including the production of a weather map altered with a Sharpie to prove his point.
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President Donald Trump ordered aides to pressure the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) into issuing a clarification to justify his false claims about Hurricane Dorian hitting Alabama, according to multiple reports.
According to both The New York Times and the Washington Post, Trump instructed his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to push for a correction by the NOAA, which oversees the National Weather Service (NWS) after its office in Birmingham, Alabama contradicted Trump.
Mulvaney then requested that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross — the cabinet member responsible for the NOAA — ask the organization to issue a public statement rebuking the forecasters in Birmingham, the Times reported.
“The Birmingham National Weather Service’s Sunday morning tweet spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time,” read the unsigned statement from the NOAA on September 6.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reports by the Times and the Post.
In response to a question Wednesday from a reporter about whether he had played a role in the NOAA issuing the statement, Trump said: “I never did that. I never did that. That’s a whole hoax by the fake news media.”
Trump’s false claim that Hurricane Dorian could hit Alabama sparked over a week of controversy
The ongoing controversy stems from a tweet sent by Trump on the morning of September 1, in which he claimed that Alabama was among the states “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated” by Hurricane Dorian.
In a tweet around 20 minutes later, the NWS’ office in Birmingham moved to dispel rumors generated by the president’s false claim, saying the state would “NOT see any impacts from Dorian.”
Trump did not retract his claim, however, and has continued to insist that Alabama lay in the hurricane’s path, going so far as to produce an NOAA map in an Oval Office press briefing last week that had been doctored with a black pen to show Alabama was forecasted to be impacted.
He also produced two earlier maps which had been superseded by the time he issued his tweet showing the possibility that Alabama would see some effects from the hurricane.
In contrast to officials who have sought to help the president justify his claim, NWS chief Louis Uccellini led a standing ovation for the forecasters who had corrected the president at a meeting of the National Weather Association Monday.
The NOAA’s chief scientist, Craig McLean, in an email to staff Monday described the statement reportedly issued on Ross’ order rebuking the scientists as “political” and a “danger to public health and safety.”
He plans to launch an investigation into whether the statement violated department rules.