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Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross threatened to fire top National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials following a tweet from the agency's Birmingham office that rebutted President Trump's claim that Hurricane Dorian would hit Alabama, the New York Times reports.

Context: Trump's incorrect tweet last week that Hurricane Dorian was projected to hit Alabama prompted NOAA's Birmingham office to tweet shortly after that "no impacts from Hurricane Dorian [would] be felt across Alabama." The rebuttal set off days of defensive tweets from Trump arguing that he was correct.

Details: According to the Times, Ross stepped in on Friday, confronting acting NOAA director Neil Jacobs by phone and demanding the agency fix its original contradiction of Trump. Jacobs refused the request and was told by Ross — who oversees the agency as commerce secretary — that top NOAA political staff would be fired if the rebuttal was not withdrawn.

  • Per the Times, "a senior administration official ... said that the Birmingham office had been wrong and that NOAA had simply done the responsible thing and corrected the record." The official suggested that the Birmingham office had posted the tweet in order to embarrass Trump, but provided no evidence for the claim.
  • NOAA's acting chief scientist Craig McLean sent an email to staff Monday announcing that he's investigating "potential violations" in the agency's ultimate decision to rebuke the Birmingham account.
  • The Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General is now investigating the NOAA statement and employees have been asked to preserve their files, according to the NYT (NOAA is a division of the Commerce Department.).

The other side: A Commerce Department spokesperson told Axios, "The New York Times story is false. Secretary Ross did not threaten to fire any NOAA staff over forecasting and public statements about Hurricane Dorian."

Go deeper: Weather community criticizes NOAA for defending Trump

Editor's note: This article has been updated with details on the report that the Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General is investigating.

Go deeper

Rideshare companies say driver shortage is pushing prices up

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's not just you: Uber and Lyft rides are more expensive, company executives said this week.

Why it matters: Demand for rideshare is roaring back as the economy starts to reopen, but the same can't be said for drivers on the apps. That means fewer cars on the road, causing a supply gap that's pushing up prices.

Pelosi slams GOP leadership's moves against Liz Cheney

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week condemned Republican efforts to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as House GOP conference chair.

Why it matters: A number of Democrats have spoken out against attempts to punish Cheney for her criticism of former President Trump, framing the discussion as one essential to the maintenance of American democracy.

What to watch in AMLO's meeting with Harris

Three Mexico national guardsmen stand in front of the metro overpass that collapsed onto a busy highway. Photo: Julián Lopez/ Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Joint efforts to stem the increased number of migrants heading to the U.S. will likely be at the top of discussions when Vice President Kamala Harris and Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador hold their virtual meeting on Friday.

The big picture: The U.S. government has consistently asked its southern neighbor to prevent immigrants from reaching the border, mostly through threats like former President Trump’s talk of tariffs.