White House press secretary Sarah Sanders joked Tuesday that some of the reporters in the White House briefing room are not from planet Earth.
“I already want to pass on this question given you’ve got aliens sitting among you,” Sanders said after being asked about discontinued federal research into UFOs. Sanders said she was unaware of whether President Trump believes in UFOs or if he wants to restore funding for research.
“I will check into that and be happy to circle back,” Sanders said.
The question came after the New York Times reported that Congress secretly appropriated nearly $22 million in funding for UFO research from 2008 to 2011.
The research occurred under the Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, the Times reported, at the request of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Most of the funds went to a company run by Robert Bigelow, reportedly a friend of Reid’s. Bigelow said he was “absolutely convinced” aliens exist.
The Times’ article ignited broad public fascination with aliens, but critics viewed the report as sensational.
Government secret-spiller Julian Assange, the editor of WikiLeaks, wrote that “The New York Times fake news apocalypse has reached perfection with a front page story claiming UFOs exist.”