The White House was directly involved in pressing a federal scientific agency to repudiate the weather forecasters who contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian would probably strike Alabama, according to several people familiar with the events.
Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to have the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publicly disavow the forecasters’ position that Alabama was not at risk. NOAA, which is part of the Commerce Department, issued an unsigned statement last Friday in response, saying that the Birmingham, Ala., office was wrong to dispute the president’s warning.
In pressing NOAA’s acting administrator to take action, Mr. Ross warned that top employees at the agency could be fired if the situation was not addressed, The New York Times previously reported. Mr. Ross’s spokesman has denied that he threatened to fire anyone, and a senior administration official on Wednesday said Mr. Mulvaney did not tell the commerce secretary to make such a threat.
The release of the NOAA statement provoked complaints that the Trump administration was improperly intervening in the professional weather forecasting system to justify the president’s mistaken assertion. The Commerce Department’s inspector general is investigating how that statement came to be issued, saying it could call into question scientific independence.
This is a crime.
UPDATE: Trump ordered it…. says WaPo:
President Trump told his staff that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration needed to correct a tweet that seemed to contradict his statement that Hurricane Dorian posed a significant threat to Alabama as of Sept. 1, in contrast to what the agency’s forecasters were predicting at the time. This led chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to call Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to tell him to fix the issue, senior administration officials said.
Trump had complained for several days about the issue, according to senior officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter.
Mulvaney then called Ross but did not instruct him to threaten any firings or offer any punitive threats, officials said. He simply told Ross that the agency needed to fix it immediately, leading to a new statement that was issued on Sept. 6. The New York Times reported some elements of these events earlier Wednesday.
Aaand a denial….
Trump tells reporters he did not ask Mulvaney to tell NOAA to disavow the NWS tweet contradicting Trump: "No I never did that."— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) September 11, 2019