Matt Gaetz: Donald Trump administration reviewing use of Chinese ‘Trojan horse’ drones
Matt Gaetz is among those calling for Donald Trump to pardon former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. Image via AP.

Trump Impeachment
Gaetz says the drones could be sending strategic intelligence to the Chinese government.

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz says he believes the Donald Trump administration is reviewing potential guidance on banning the government use of drones produced by a Chinese-owned company.

Gaetz, a Northwest Florida Republican, called on Attorney General William Barr and the Department of Justice to ban the drones at the local, state and federal levels of law enforcement. After meeting with Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows over the weekend at Camp David, Gaetz took to his new daily podcast to share the update about drones produced by Dà-Jiāng Innovations (DJI).

“In my conversations with the Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, I am comforted that the administration is aware of the threat posed by DJI and the dual-use drone technology,” he said. “It is my belief that the administration is currently reviewing potential guidance from the Department of Justice to state and local law enforcement.”

Gaetz has called the drones part of a “Trojan horse spying operation” that, according to a 2017 report from a Los Angeles U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, was targeting law enforcement and critical infrastructure companies to collect and exploit data. With less confidence, the report suggested DJI could be forwarding that data to the Chinese Communist Party.

“Drones really were an American innovation, and China stole the tech, replicated it, and applied dual use so it not only has commercial value in selling, it also has intelligence and military and strategic value,” Gaetz said.

DJI says claims in the report are false or can be easily disproven. A consulting firm hired by DJI released an independent report  in 2018 disputing the Los Angeles ICE office’s findings.

In a 2019 United Kingdom parliamentary hearing, Brendan Schulman, DJI’s vice president of policy and legal affairs, said users could turn off a drone’s data-sharing feature, which he recommended for those handling sensitive information. If requested by the Chinese government, DJI would hand over data from its servers to comply with an investigation.

But Gaetz still raises the drones as a risk for law enforcement offices across the country, including the Daytona Beach Police Department, which received the drones as a donation from DJI for its COVID-19 response. According to News 6 last month, the drones came with loudspeakers to disperse crowds during the social distancing advisory.

“Since the coronavirus, China and DJI the drone company have gifted a large number of drones to state and local law enforcement who do not have the sophistication to know that they are transmitting information back to China,” Gaetz said.

This month, Gaetz told Florida Politics that if law enforcement are going to use drones, they should at least use drones approved by the federal government or produced by American companies. But with DJI dropping the price of their drones, they are preying on local law enforcement after having driven domestic companies out of the American drone market, he said.

“I think we may find circumstances to expose where China has tried to prey on a lower level of sophistication at the local level for their strategic benefit against our country,” Gaetz said on the podcast.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


2 comments

  • jimkaat

    May 18, 2020 at 11:18 pm

    Many Americans protesting across the country firmly believe the Democrats would be more than willing to completely destroy the economy if it meant getting rid of President Trump. They’ve tried everything else. American citizens aren’t willing to sacrifice their homes, careers, jobs and businesses, 401K for another leftist attempt to remove a President.

    There is no moderate wing of the Democrat party. If you vote for Joe Biden, you are voting for Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren’s platform.. Joe will follow the radical left’s agenda or Joe won’t get the support and he is…. of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Valerie Jarrett,. Rashida Talib, Stacy Abrams, Ayanna Pressley, Nancy Pelosi, Sheila Jackson Lee, Tom Perez, Maxine Waters, Al Green, and llhan Omar. This is the core of the socialists leftist wing of the Democrat party and they are firmly in charge.. Most or all have already endorsed Joe Biden, so he obviously has committed to their agenda.

    Democrat Platform & Goals:
    Democrat Taxpayers pay close attention, you’ll pay too)

    -End all deportations of illegal aliens, if you get here, you stay. Bernie’s website calls it a “moratorium” on deportations.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    -Citizenship for 20 to 50 million illegal aliens, DACA & TPS recipients with a cost of billions. Democrats Yes. Republicans No.

    -De-fund & terminate border patrol & ICE.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    -Free Health Care for Illegal aliens, DACA, TPS recipients (taxpayer funded with one estimate at 52 trillion)
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    -Ending of all private / employer based health care. “Medicare for all”, Feds run everything.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    -Illegal Aliens eligible for welfare & food stamps. (Elizabeth Warrens plan adopted) Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No

    -Free college for all, including illegal aliens (taxpayer funded estimates in the billions. If you vote Democrat, don’t expect to put Junior in college…..BUT you will finance the education of illegal aliens. Democrats Yes. Republicans No.

    -Decriminalization of illegal entry into our country.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    -Sanctuary Cities & States.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    -Open Borders.
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    -Massive tax increases. All Democrat candidates have committed to tax increases of various amounts.
    Democrats Yes tax increases.
    Republicans No tax increases.

    -Reparations for race’s harmed by Caucasians. Joe committed this to “Reverend” Al Sharpton, support for Sheila Jackson Lee’s racist reparations bill in the House. Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    -Drivers licenses for illegal aliens.(already happening in states with Democrat leadership) Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    -Opposed to ANY voter ID Laws.(Nancy Pelosi wanted this amendment in the first corona virus bill) I wonder why?
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

    -AOC’s green new deal.(which would create massive unemployment, 100,000 jobs estimated in the transportation industry alone.)
    Democrats Yes.
    Republicans No.

  • Sonja Emily Fitch

    May 19, 2020 at 6:27 am

    POOR LITTLE MATTIE….LOOKING FOR THE ATTENTION. EVERY SINGLE GOPTRUMP CULT MEMBER INCLUDING GAETZ DOES NOT GIVE A CRAP ABOUT THE COMMON GOOD. VOTE OUT THE GOPTRUMP CULT. VOTE FOR THE COMMON GOOD. MORBIDLY OBESE TRUMP IS TAKING THE “clorox” HYDROX DRUG……WHY? IS HIMS LOOKING FOR ATTENTION TOO? OR IS HIMS SCARED THE VIRUS WILL GET HIM? TIME WILL TELL.

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