The White House pressed a federal scientific agency to disavow statements made by weather forecasters who contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian would likely strike Alabama, several sources told The New York Times. On Sept. 1, the president tweeted that Alabama “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” Moments later, the National Weather Service in Birmingham tweeted that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.” Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney then reportedly instructed Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to have the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publicly disavow the forecasters’ position that Alabama was not at risk.
Last Friday, NOAA issued an unsigned statement saying that the Alabama office was wrong to dispute the president’s warning. The Times reported that Ross threatened the jobs of top-level agency employees. Both Ross and Mulvaney have denied the claims. The controversy sparked complaints that the Trump administration was intervening in the professional weather forecasting system to justify the president’s false claims.