National Politics

WaPo: NOAA to investigate if response to Trump violated ethics

Chief scientist calls response 'political'

WASHINGTON, D.C. - An official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is going to investigate if the agency violated its own ethics when it backed President Donald Trump's tweets about Hurricane Dorian over its experts, according to a report by the Washington Post.

The move is the latest development in an ongoing controversy surrounding the President's false assertion last week that Hurricane Dorian would hit Alabama. On Friday, NOAA disavowed a tweet from the National Weather Service's Birmingham, Alabama, office that had contradicted Trump's claim.

In an internal email obtained by The Washington Post, NOAA Acting Chief Scientist Craig McLean called the response "political" and "a danger to public health and safety." He also said he would investigate if the agency's actions violated the "NOAA Administrative Order on Scientific Integrity."

"The NWS Forecaster(s) corrected any public misunderstanding in an expert and timely way, as they should," McLean said. "There followed, last Friday, an unsigned press release from 'NOAA' that inappropriately and incorrectly contradicted the NWS forecaster. My understanding is that this intervention to contradict the forecaster was not based on science but on external factors including reputation and appearance, or simply put, political."

CNN has reached out to NOAA for comment.

Trump's tweet that Hurricane Dorian would affect Alabama caused confusion last week. The controversy grew deeper after Trump showed off an apparently altered map of a forecast from NOAA that showed a black line drawn in marker over the state to imply Dorian's track would have taken it deep into the Gulf state. The Washington Post reported Sunday that the NWS sent a memo to staffers last week directing them to focus on Hurricane Dorian and not "national level social media posts," an apparent reference to Trump's claims.

CNN's Gregory Wallace, Kyle Feldscher, Jim Acosta and Devan Cole contributed to this report.


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