Wilbur Ross Under Fire After Reports of Political Meddling at NOAA

Sep 10, 2019

Calls for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to resign are mounting after reports emerged Monday he threatened to fire staff at NOAA — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — for pushing back on President Trump’s false statements about Hurricane Dorian and its risk to Alabama. On September 1, Trump incorrectly tweeted that Alabama would “most likely be hit much harder than anticipated.” The statement was swiftly denied by the National Weather Service. Last Friday, NOAA issued a statement disavowing the National Weather Service’s denial.

The Washington Post reported over the weekend NOAA warned its staff not to publicly contradict President Trump’s false statements. The agency reportedly sent a similar message after Trump showed a doctored hurricane prediction map last week with a hand-drawn extension added by black marker to include Alabama.

NOAA’s acting chief scientist told coworkers Friday he is investigating whether the agency’s response to President Trump’s Dorian tweets constitute a violation of agency policies and ethics. The Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General has also launched an investigation into the matter, according to The New York Times. Meanwhile, National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini publicly backed NOAA forecasters at a meeting of the National Weather Association Monday for dispelling the falsehoods about Dorian’s threat to Alabama.

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