Energy & Environment

WH pushed for ‘correction’ to Weather Service tweet contradicting Trump in ‘Sharpiegate’ incident, watchdog says 

The White House pushed for a “correction” of a National Weather Service (NWS) tweet that contradicted President Trump during the so-called “Sharpigate” scandal, according to an internal watchdog report. 

The report also says that the White House was involved in an unsigned statement rebuking the tweet. 

The report from the Commerce Department inspector general detailed involvement of then-acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in these incidents related to “Sharpiegate” last year. 

In September, President Trump held up a map that showed an altered path for Hurricane Dorian sketched out with a black marker that appeared to wrongly show the storm headed toward Alabama in support of a statement he made earlier about the hurricane’s projected path.

The NWS Birmingham office later tweeted that Alabama would not see impacts from the storm. 

The report issued Thursday shows coordination between the department and White House on the matter. 

“It appears as if the NWS intentionally contradicted the president. And we need to know why. He wants either a correction or an explanation or both,” Mulvaney wrote in an email to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, according to the report. 

The report also says that Muvlaney was given the option to approve a statement from the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) saying forecasts had shown that “tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama” and rebuking the NWS tweet. 

Investigators did not find evidence that the jobs of NOAA officials were directly threatened, but some NOAA officials felt that jobs were at risk, the report said.

Neil Jacobs, the assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction told investigators that he did not refuse to include the part of the statement knocking the NWS Birmingham office because he “definitely felt like our jobs were on the line.”

The report also detailed two conflicting narratives about that portion of the statement.

In the “NOAA version” of the story, the Commerce Department required the inclusion of the NWS rebuke even though NOAA officials did not want to include it.

However in the “department version” there were not objections.

The White House declined to comment on the report.

In the department’s official response, it said that the fact that the report did not give recommendations showed that “there were no major flaws in the department’s handling of the situation.”

“The department views this matter as closed,” it said.

In an official response, Commerce Chief of Staff Michael Walsh Jr. said that the report’s findings are “unsupported by any of the evidence or factual findings that the report itself lays out.”

“The record shows the process I designed was open and collaborative and intended to achieve a consensus-based outcome,” he said.

The report concluded that there was a flawed process at the department, that Commerce required NOAA to issue a statement that didn’t advance NOAA or NWS interests and that Commerce “failed to account for the public safety intent of the NWS Birmingham tweet.”

These conclusions were first made public in a summary of the report.

Earlier this week, tensions flared between the inspector general’s office and the Commerce Department over the report.

The watchdog’s office accused department officials of holding up the report. However, the Commerce Department denied this and blamed the inspector general’s office.

Updated 8:00 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Hurricane Dorian Mick Mulvaney National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Sharpiegate United States Department of Commerce Wilbur Ross

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video