Former President Donald Trump repeatedly asked national security officials about whether China had produced technology to spawn hurricanes and fire them at the United States during his first year in office, according to Rolling Stone, adding to a growing list of recent reports alleging Trump regularly broached outlandish ideas to top officials.
Trump would also ask advisors whether use of such a weapon would be considered an act of war, and if the U.S. should respond with military strikes, according to Rolling Stone, citing two unnamed Trump Administration senior officials and another unnamed source with knowledge of the matter.
China has attempted to manipulate weather in the past, and claimed to successfully keep rain from falling during the 2008 Summer Olympics, but there’s no evidence China or any other country has the technology to somehow create and guide enormous storms on the other side of the planet.
Trump’s questioning about a Chinese “hurricane gun,” as officials called it, continued until 2018 before he seemed to dismiss the idea and eventually started joking about it, according to Rolling Stone.
Two major hurricanes struck the U.S. mainland during Trump’s first year as president, Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida, while Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.
A Trump spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.
“It was almost too stupid for words,” a former White House official told Rolling Stone. “I did not get the sense he was joking at all.”
Trump’s term coincided with a historic uptick in hurricane activity across the Atlantic basin, which led to some of the ex-president’s most bizarre comments and controversies during his time in office. In 2019, it was reported Trump told national security officials they should look into dropping nuclear bombs on developing tropical systems—an idea that’s long been rejected by meteorologists as ineffective and incredibly dangerous. Trump in 2019 also presented to reporters an altered National Hurricane Center forecast track including Alabama in the projected path of Hurricane Dorian. Trump, according to reports, personally doctored the map using a Sharpie marker, in an incident that became popularly known as Sharpiegate. The fake storm track was apparently an effort from Trump to fire back at criticism over a September 1, 2019, tweet where he said “South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,” even though Alabama was not included in the official National Hurricane Center forecast.
The New York Times reported last week Trump approached former Defense Secretary Mark Esper in 2020 to suggest shooting missiles into Mexico to “destroy the drug labs.” He also reportedly suggested deploying thousands of troops to respond to Black Lives Matter protests after George Floyd’s death.