Inspector General investigating NOAA's statement backing Trump on Dorian: report

An unsigned statement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) backing President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report Giuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry Giuliani associate Lev Parnas discussed Ukraine with Trump at private dinner: report MORE over the National Weather Service (NWS) in claiming Alabama could be in the path of Hurricane Dorian is reportedly under investigation by the Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General.

In a message to NOAA staff members, Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson wrote that the NWS “must maintain standards of scientific integrity,” according to The New York Times.

Gustafson added that the episode had called “into question the NWS’s processes, scientific independence, and ability to communicate accurate and timely weather warnings and data to the nation in times of national emergency.”

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The inspector general's office has asked NOAA employees to preserve their communications relating to the Friday statement, according to the Times.

The report comes on the heels of an earlier report that Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossTrump trade adviser pushes back on reports of US-China tariff deal China, US agree to reduce tariffs amid trade talks, Beijing says Income for poorest Americans fell faster than previously thought: study MORE threatened to fire NOAA staff who did not back Trump’s statements about the storm. A department spokesperson declined to comment to the Times on whether Ross spoke to the NOAA administrator or ordered it to issue the statement.

“Secretary Ross did not threaten to fire any NOAA staff over forecasting and public statements about Hurricane Dorian,” the spokesperson reportedly said.

Meanwhile, the acting chief scientist of the NOAA is reportedly investigating whether the unsigned statement was a breach of ethics.

“The content of this press release is very concerning as it compromises the ability of NOAA to convey life-saving information necessary to avoid substantial and specific danger to public health and safety," Craig McLean said in a Sunday email.

“I am pursuing the potential violations of our NOAA Administrative Order on Scientific Integrity,” he added.

The Hill has reached out to the Commerce Department for comment.

Trump has faced more than a week of controversy over his claim that Dorian could be headed for Alabama, which was immediately contradicted by the Birmingham NWS office. He repeatedly doubled down on his tweet, including presenting an NOAA that appeared to have been altered with a marker to show Alabama in Dorian's path.