Chinese spy balloons: How long have they been flying over the country?

The Pentagon reportedly withheld information from Trump for fear that the then-president would react too strongly.

Since a Chinese spy balloon was recently discovered flying in U.S. airspace, several progressive-leaning media outlets claimed that several such flying objects also passed through the country during the Trump administration. The former president denied that this was true, but the possibility has been raised that it really did happen but that it was concealed from him for fear of retaliation.

While Joe Biden was being harshly criticized for his "weak" and slow response to the discovery of the Chinese spy balloon, some media published that other balloons passed through U.S. territory during Donald Trump's presidency after communicating with purportedly official sources.

Following the allegations, several former intelligence officials spoke out and denied any knowledge of such occurrences during Trump's tenure. In fact, the former president himself spoke out on Truth Social to deny the reports and assure that the news was intended to take the pressure off the Biden administration due to harsh criticism.

"The Chinese balloon situation is a disgrace, just like the Afghanistan horror show, and everything else surrounding the grossly incompetent Biden Administration," he said.

However, this Monday, Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) said in an interview that Chinese spy balloons indeed had been discovered before but that the Pentagon didn't say anything to Trump because they were worried that his reaction would be too strong.

"My office has been briefed by the office of the Secretary of Defense of the current Pentagon that it happened over Florida, it happened over Texas, and that it’s happened before," Waltz said adding that the Pentagon thought "Trump would be too provocative and too aggressive."

There is still no certainty on how many balloons have passed over U.S. territory. According to some media reports, Chinese surveillance balloons flew over at least three times while Donald Trump was president and twice under Joe Biden, the latter being the one during which a balloon spent the longest time in U.S. airspace.

"We became aware that at least on three occasions surveillance balloons via the PRC, transited US airspace. From every indication that we have, that was for brief periods of time, nothing at all like what we saw last week in terms of duration," said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.