WASHINGTON – In the fifth day of a flap over the path of Hurricane Dorian, the White House released a statement from a homeland security adviser who said he briefed President Donald Trump about the possibility of heavy winds in Alabama from the storm hours before the president warned the state about rough weather.
The statement from Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser Peter Brown followed a daylong series of tweets from Trump amid a spiraling controversy over the president’s knowledge about the path of the storm. Trump has defended a tweet from Sunday in which he warned Alabama despite predictions that, by then, had the storm turning north.
“The president’s comments were based on that morning’s Hurricane Dorian briefing, which included the possibility of tropical storm force winds in southeastern Alabama,” Brown wrote.
Throughout the day Trump insisted that “certain models” of forecasting once showed that the storm at one point could have hit Alabama, though the trajectory predicted by the National Hurricane Center had changed well before the president began talking about the threat to the state on Sunday.
Brown’s statement did not address the altered forecast map that the president held aloft on Wednesday in an effort to explain his warning to Alabama. Instead, Brown said that the president also reviewed “spaghetti model” maps that included a wider range of potential paths for the storm.
“What I said was accurate!” Trump said during a string of Twitter messages posted throughout the day.
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The president appeared to be responding to commentators who mocked him for an incident Wednesday in which he displayed a hurricane forecasting map that had been altered – someone used a sharpie to scrawl a semi-circle to extend the storm’s path into Alabama.
During the day, Trump tweeted out old weather maps that also showed Alabama may have been vulnerable to the the fringes of the storm.
“Just as I said, Alabama was originally projected to be hit,” Trump said. “The Fake News denies it!”
Trump tweeted out maps developed on Aug. 29 and 30. He tweeted about the threat to Alabama on Sunday, Sept. 1, by which time maps showed that the storm had changed course.
Trump’s seeming obsession with Alabama and the hurricane drew derision on social media.
“Does @realDonaldTrump really not have anything better to do all day than rant on Twitter about whether Dorian was projected to hit Alabama?” tweeted national security lawyer Bradley P. Moss, who represents USA TODAY in open records litigation.
Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman who is mounting a long-shot primary challenge to Trump, responded to Moss by saying: “That’s about it. He really doesn’t have anything better to do.”
In his morning tweet, Trump said: “In the early days of the hurricane, when it was predicted that Dorian would go through Miami or West Palm Beach, even before it reached the Bahamas, certain models strongly suggested that Alabama & Georgia would be hit as it made its way through Florida & to the Gulf.”
In a follow-up, he said: “Instead it turned North and went up the coast, where it continues now. In the one model through Florida, the Great State of Alabama would have been hit or grazed. In the path it took, no. Read my FULL FEMA statement. What I said was accurate! All Fake News in order to demean!”
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