WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden plans to deliver his most extended public remarks yet — as early as Thursday — about the unidentified objects that the U.S. military has been shooting down, three people familiar with the matter said.
Biden will explain how he has tasked his administration with setting parameters about how to deal with balloons and other aerial objects spotted in the future.
The exact timing of Biden’s remarks has not been settled. The president is due to take a physical exam Thursday that could last several hours.
With federal investigators analyzing the wreckage and many questions still unanswered, Biden has been sparing in his remarks.
White House officials have been privately discussing whether he should deliver an address about the military’s shooting down a Chinese spy balloon and three other objects that have still not been identified, NBC News reported Tuesday.
Biden has faced growing pressure to speak out. Amid an information vacuum, conspiracy theories have been sprouting up, forcing White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to announce at a daily briefing that she could definitively say that the objects that have been downed were not extraterrestrial spacecraft.
“It was important for us to say that from here, because we’ve been hearing a lot about it,” she said his week.
Lawmakers who have gotten private briefings about the aerial objects have said they want to hear directly from Biden about whether the U.S. is under threat.
NBC News first reported the existence of the Chinese spy balloon on Feb. 2.
Dennis DeConcini, a Democrat from Arizona who served with Biden in the Senate, said: “In today’s world, you can’t just put this kind of stuff off. He could have put people more at rest that he’s on top of it” if he were to say, “‘I’m going to share everything I can as soon as I can.’”
Biden is expected to discuss how he wants the administration to come up with protocols for deciding whether to shoot down unknown objects floating overhead or, instead, let them pass if they are benign and no threat to civilian aircraft.
John Bolton, a national security adviser in the Trump administration, said in an interview that when Biden does speak, “he needs to say not just the truth, but the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
Peter Nicholas is senior White House reporter for NBC News digital.
Kristen Welker is chief White House correspondent for NBC News.
Mike Memoli is an NBC News correspondent.