NOAA chief praises agency scientists after statement backing up Trump tweet

The acting chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Friday reportedly praised the agency in an all-staff email after it released a statement last week siding with President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Overnight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Hillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom's license MORE over its own scientists.

In an email with the subject line “Keeping NOAA’s Mission in Focus,” Neil Jacobs highlighted the efforts of the National Weather Service's Birmingham office and said forecasters “did their utmost” to predict accurate forecasts, The Washington Post reported.

“During hurricane Dorian, our Weather Forecast Offices, including Birmingham and the National Hurricane Center, did their utmost to produce accurate and timely weather forecasts to inform the general public and ensure public safety,” Jacobs wrote.

He added, “The American people are depending on our agency. There is no question in my mind that we will continue to provide expert analyses and predictions to keep Americans safe, and that all our line and staff offices will support the American public during these events. Our work saves lives.”

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“Our team is committed to upholding scientific integrity,” his email concluded, according to the Post.

The email comes after NOAA issued a statement on Sept. 6 disavowing a days-old tweet from the National Weather Service office in Birmingham that contradicted Trump's remarks on the path of Dorian.

The statement, which was unsigned and posted to the agency's website, said the "Birmingham National Weather Service’s Sunday morning tweet spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time."

The statement caused widespread backlash by siding instead with Trump, who had incorrectly tweeted days earlier that Alabama would be among several states that would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”

The Post reported that Jacobs and another top NOAA aide were involved in crafting the statement, but the newspaper reported that Jacobs fought issuing such a statement, citing two sources.

Jacobs praised the Birmingham office in a speech at the National Weather Association annual conference earlier this week, saying, “We understand and fully support the good intent of the Birmingham weather office, which was to calm fears and support public safety.” 

Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOne year in, Democrats frustrated by fight for Trump tax returns Meadows joins White House in crisis mode Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE reportedly instructed Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossTariffs on imported oil: A bad idea at the wrong time Tourism industry estimates 4.6 million travel-related jobs lost due to coronavirus 2020 census to run ads on 'Premio lo Nuestro' MORE to have NOAA support Trump’s comments on the threat of Dorian to Alabama and contradict the National Weather Service, The New York Times later reported.

House Democrats and the Department of Commerce’s inspector general are investigating the matter.