Speed Reads

we're not done yet

Wilbur Ross reportedly threatened to fire NOAA employees over tweet contradicting Trump

Believe it or not, the news cycle sparked by President Trump's Hurricane Dorian tweet from more than a week ago isn't nearly over yet.

The New York Times reported on Monday that after the National Weather Service's Birmingham office contradicted the president in clarifying that Alabama was not at risk of being impacted by Dorian last week, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross "threatened to fire top employees" at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

When Trump on Sept. 1 tweeted that Alabama might be getting hit by Dorian "(much) harder than anticipated," the NWS in Birmingham quickly jumped in to note that actually, "Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian." A defensive Trump in the following days would repeatedly reject claims that his original tweet was false, pointing to information showing Alabama could be hit that was days old by the time his tweet came and even pulling out a custom weather map with a circle drawn onto it to cover Alabama.

Ross' threat of firings apparently came on Friday, when the Times reports he called the NOAA's acting administrator, Neil Jacobs, and demanded he "fix the agency's perceived contradiction of the president." When Jacobs resisted, Ross reportedly told Jacobs "that the political staff at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not fixed." Later that day, the NOAA released a statement backing Trump and dismissing the tweet from the Birmingham office, saying it was "inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time." Just when you thought the fallout of Trump's weather tweeting and Sharpie drawing had died down, it appears many more days of it may lie ahead.

Update 6:26 p.m. ET: A Commerce Department spokesperson has now denied the New York Times story, calling it "false" and saying in a statement, "Secretary Ross did not threaten to fire any NOAA staff over forecasting and public statements about Hurricane Dorian."