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Mulvaney pushed NOAA to disavow forecasters who contradicted Trump on Alabama: report

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOMB nominee gets hearing on Feb. 9 Republicans now 'shocked, shocked' that there's a deficit Financial firms brace for Biden's consumer agency chief MORE instructed Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossFormer Trump officials find tough job market On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits MORE to have the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) support President TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE’s comments on the threat of Hurricane Dorian to Alabama and contradict the National Weather Service (NWS), according to The New York Times.

The Times, citing three unidentified sources, reported that after the directive came down from Mulvaney, Ross called acting NOAA Administrator Neil Jacobs to tell him to ensure the agency backed Trump.

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When Jacobs objected, he was told the NOAA’s political appointees would be fired if it was not carried out, according to the newspaper.

Ross's spokesman has denied earlier reporting that the Cabinet official threatened firings at the NOAA if the administration did not back the president.

Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday that he "never" told Mulvaney to have NOAA disavow the NWS.

"That’s a whole hoax by the fake news media when they talk about the hurricane and they talk about Florida and they talk about Alabama," he said.

In the wake of an unsigned NOAA statement supporting Trump, which drew condemnation from meteorologists and former NOAA personnel, Jacobs has sought to assuage concerns about political interference within the agency.

“This administration is committed to the important mission of weather forecasting,” Jacobs said Tuesday at a weather conference in Huntsville, Ala. “There is no pressure to change the way you communicate or forecast risk in the future.”

In the same speech, Jacobs defended Trump’s insistence that the storm threatened Alabama, telling attendees “at one point, Alabama was in the mix, as was the rest of the Southeast.”

Jacobs also defended the Birmingham, Ala., NWS office, which contradicted the president, according to the Times.

“The purpose of the NOAA statement was to clarify the technical aspects of the potential impacts of Dorian,” he said, according to the newspaper. “What it did not say, however, is that we understand and fully support the good intent of the Birmingham weather forecast office, which was to calm fears in support of public safety.”

A Commerce Department spokesman referred The Hill to Jacobs's remarks in the speech, as well as to similar comments he made in his confirmation hearings, and to the department's earlier denial that Ross threatened firings at NOAA.

The Hill has also reached out to the White House for comment.

--Brett Samuels contributed to this report, which was updated at 2:07 p.m.