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Commerce staff drafted statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump's hurricane predictions

Commerce Department officials were responsible for drafting a statement that rebuked National Weather Service staff after they sent a tweet countering President TrumpDonald TrumpDC goes to the dogs — Major and Champ, that is Biden on refugee cap: 'We couldn't do two things at once' Taylor Greene defends 'America First' effort, pushes back on critics MORE’s statements about Hurricane Dorian, according to a letter sent by the House Science committee Thursday.

The letter sent by House Science, Space and Technology Chairwoman Eddie Bernice JohnsonEddie Bernice JohnsonWhy does Rep. Johnson oppose NASA's commercial human landing system? OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Dakota Access pipeline to remain in operation despite calls for shutdown | Biden hopes to boost climate spending by B | White House budget proposes .4B for environmental justice Congressional proclamation prioritizes a critical societal issue: Lack of women of color in tech MORE (D-Texas) to 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 stated that interviews that took place with administration staff this week revealed it was Commerce Department officials, not National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) staff, who were responsible for sending the controversial letter.

In the interview with Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator at NOAA, the committee found that an unsigned Sept. 6 statement that disavowed NWS staff in Alabama was orchestrated by Ross’s chief of staff and three other top deputies.

The statement read, “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 was in response to a tweet by National Weather Service's Birmingham office that wrote “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east." 

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Trump had previously tweeted that the Hurricane could potentially hit the state.

The interview with Science Committee staff additionally confirmed reporting that White House Chief of Staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE was directly involved in “high-level” conversations surrounding the statement, according to the letter.

The lawmaker is requesting more details from the Commerce Department surrounding events that led administration officials to criticize NOAA staff for disagreeing with Trump that Dorian might veer into Alabama.

“We outlined our concerns about events surrounding President Donald Trump’s assertions that Alabama would be “hit (much) harder than anticipated” by Hurricane Dorian,” the letter from Johnson reads.

“The committee has yet to receive any responsive materials.”

In the latest letter to Ross, Johnson requests an interview with his four top staff members by Oct. 25 and asks for all call logs and notes taken during the period of time. 

Additionally, the lawmaker questions why Ross was able to provide details to the Commerce Office of Inspector General beginning Sept. 20 but has not yet provided those relevant documents to her committee.

“There is no reason for Commerce to withhold documents from the Committee while cooperating with a virtually identical request from the OIG,” she wrote.