Former President Donald Trump openly pondered whether China was developing new technology to create hurricanes and launch them toward the United States, asking advisers if it would justify military action.
The former president repeatedly brought up the possibility during his first year in office after two major hurricanes, Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida, caused widespread damage in 2017, officials told Rolling Stone. He specifically asked whether China had created a “hurricane gun,” bringing up the question several times before seemingly brushing it off as a joke in 2018.
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“It was almost too stupid for words,” a former White House official told the outlet. “I did not get the sense he was joking at all.”
Another official, who was granted the condition of anonymity in interviews with the outlet, said people in the room responded to Trump to tell him there weren’t hurricane guns “to the best of [their] knowledge” and that he tried to “[keep] it together” until he got back to his office.
“I do not know where the president would have heard about that,” the official said. “He was asking about it around the time, maybe a little before, he asked people about nuking hurricanes.”
Trump’s term coincided with historic hurricane activity, prompting a slew of bizarre claims and solutions from the then-president. At one point, Trump reportedly told his national security team to consider dropping nuclear bombs in areas of the ocean where tropical storms were forming to impede their progress — an idea that meteorologists denounced as dangerous.
Some ex-Trump officials noted the inquiry wasn’t all that unusual for the former president, with former White House aide Stephanie Grisham noting it was typical behavior.
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“Stuff like that was not unusual for him,” said Grisham, who has had a public break with Trump since leaving office and later released a book about her experience as press secretary. “He would blurt out crazy things all the time and tell aides to look into it or do something about it. His staff would say they’d look into [it] knowing that more often than not, he’d forget about it quickly — much like a toddler.”
The former president also ran into criticism when he presented a National Hurricane Center forecast ahead of Hurricane Dorian in 2019, drawing over the map with a Sharpie to include Alabama in the storm's trajectory, despite it not being in the official forecast. The move was thought to be a response to criticism aimed at Trump for insisting Alabama was in the forecasted path despite official predictions noting otherwise.
A Trump spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment by the Washington Examiner.