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In this Sept. 4, 2019, file photo, President Donald Trump holds a chart as he talks with reporters after receiving a briefing on Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Political pressure from the White House and a series of "crazy in the middle of the night" texts, emails and phone calls caused top federal weather officials to wrongly admonish a weather office for a tweet that contradicted President Trump about Hurricane Dorian in 2019, an inspector general report issued Thursday, July 9, 2020, found. Evan Vucci / AP File Photo

USA - Watchdog details political pressure in ’Sharpiegate’

Political pressure from the White House and a series of “crazy in the middle of the night” texts, emails and phone calls caused top federal weather officials to wrongly admonish a weather office for a tweet that contradicted President Donald Trump about Hurricane Dorian in 2019, an inspector general report found.

Commerce Department Inspector General Peggy Gustafson concluded in a report issued Thursday that the statement chastising the National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Alabama, could undercut public trust in weather warnings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and for a short time even hindered public safety. Agency officials downplayed and disputed the findings.

“Instead of focusing on NOAA’s successful hurricane forecast, the Department unnecessarily rebuked NWS forecasters for issuing a public safety message about Hurricane Dorian in response to public inquiries — that is, for doing their jobs,” the report concluded.

Former Obama NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco, a scientist at Oregon State University, said in an email that high-level officials “put politics and their own jobs above public safety. In my view, this is shameful, irresponsible, and unethical.”

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