Report: Wilbur Ross Threatened To Fire NOAA Employees After Birmingham Statement

UNITED STATES - MARCH 14: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross testifies during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building discuss preparations for the 2020 Census and citizenship questions on Thursday March 14, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
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September 10, 2019 8:20 a.m.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross called acting NOAA Administrator Neil Jacobs from Greece to threaten him and top officials with termination if they didn’t contradict a statement from the Birmingham, Alabama office undermining President Donald Trump’s bogus Hurricane Dorian meteorology.

According to the New York Times, Ross called Jacobs two days after Trump wielded his infamous Sharpie map to undergird his baseless conviction that Alabama was originally projected to be hit by Hurricane Dorian.

Ross demanded that Jacobs fix the Birmingham office’s contradiction of the President’s statements. When Jacobs refused, Ross said that the political staff would be fired otherwise. Those members of NOAA are not scientists but administration appointees.

Commerce department spokesperson Kevin Manning denies the reporting.

“The New York Times story is false,” he told TPM. “Secretary Ross did not threaten to fire any NOAA staff over forecasting and public statements about Hurricane Dorian.”

Later that same day, an unsigned statement popped up on the NOAA website criticizing the Birmingham office for “speaking in absolute terms.”

Craig McLean, the chief acting scientist at NOAA, announced in a Sunday email that he’d be launching an investigation into the whole incident, calling the unsigned NOAA statement “political” and a “danger to public safety.”

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