On Sunday, President Donald Trump intrigued UFO believers everywhere with some cryptic comments about the phenomenon. He was interviewed on Fox News by Maria Bartiromo about a wide range of topics including the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 presidential election. His commentary on UFO conspiracy theories may have stolen the show, however.
Bartiromo described UFOs as "a lighter subject" than the rest of the interview, asking Trump about a recently-created task force within the Defense Department. She brought up the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF), asking bluntly: "Mr. President, as we wrap up here, are there UFOs?" Trump responded coyly: "Well I'm gonna have to check on that."
BARTIROMO: "Mr President, are there UFOs?"
TRUMP: "Well, I'm gonna have to check on that ... I will tell you this, we have now created a military the likes of which we've never had before, in terms of equipment." #wut pic.twitter.com/JqecgqE7FQ— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 11, 2020
"I mean, I've heard that," the president went on. "I heard that two days ago, so I'll check on that. I'll take a good, strong look at that."
Trump may have revealed more with his abrupt subject change to the U.S. military, implying to some that the Space Force was in some way a response to alleged UFO phenomena. "I will tell you this, we now have created a military, the likes of which we've never had before in terms of equipment. The equipment that we have, the weapons that we have — and hopefully, hope to God we never have to use them," Trump said.
On social media, many commenters poked fun at this tidbit and the idea that Trump was such an unconventional president that he would casually disclose the existence of UFOs on cable news. However, over the last few years, there have been a number of major declassified documents hinting that the U.S. government and the military have top-secret information on UFOs that the public hasn't seen.
The Pentagon declassified three videos of "unidentified aerial phenomena" back in April, and the next month, the U.S. Navy released incident reports of similar sightings. In August, The New York Times reported that a Pentagon project called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was operating in secret, despite having officially shut down in 2012. It has since been renamed as the UAPTF, which Bartiromo mentioned.
Modern UFO discourse goes back at least a century in the U.S., but it struck many viewers as odd when coupled with Trump. The president is often associated with conspiracy theories like QAnon and coronavirus denialism, with much more pressing social implications than the belief in UFOs. As recently as 2019, Trump expressed skepticism about UFOs in general in an interview with ABC News. So far, his "strong look" has not turned up anything new.