President Joe Biden said the mission to shoot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the East Coast Saturday was successful, and that he had ordered the Pentagon to knock the aircraft out of the sky as soon as it was safe to do so.
"On Wednesday when I was briefed on the balloon, I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down — on Wednesday — as soon as possible," the president told reporters in Hagerstown, Maryland.
"They decided, without doing damage to anyone on the ground, they decided that the best time to do that was as it got over water ... within a 12-mile limit. They successfully took it down and I want to compliment our aviators who did it," the president added.
Asked if that was a recommendation from his national security team, Biden reiterated: “I told them to shoot it down. They said to me, 'Let’s wait for the safest place to do it.'”
CNN's Nikki Carvajal contributed reporting to this post.