White House Still Won’t Say Whether Trump Believes Climate Science

White House Press secretary Sean Spicer, left, introduces EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, right, during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Friday, June 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

A day after President Donald Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt again added his name to a long list of administration officials who refuse to say whether the President believes the science behind climate change, dodging the question Friday. Sean Spicer dodged the question as well.

“Just hoping you can clear this up once and for all,” ABC’s Mary Bruce asked Pruitt Friday, the first question he was posed at a press briefing with White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

“Yes or no, does the President believe that climate change is real and a threat to the United States?”

“You know, it’s interesting, all of the discussions we had through the last several weeks have been focused on one singular issue, is Paris good or not for this country?” Pruitt answered, moving on without answering on Trump’s behalf.

NBC News’ Kristen Welker followed up later: “You’re the EPA administrator,” she said. “Shouldn’t you be able to tell the American people whether or not the resident still believes that climate change is a hoax? Where does he stand?” 

“As I indicated several times in the process,” Pruitt responded, visibly annoyed, “there is enough to deal with with respect to the Paris Agreement and making an informed decision about this important issue. That’s what our focus has been over the last several weeks. I’ve answered the question a couple times.”

Spicer followed up when he took the podium: “I have not had the opportunity to have that discussion,” he said, asked about Trump’s beliefs on the science behind climate change.

“Don’t the American people deserves to know” what the President believes? a reporter pressed.

“I think Administrator Pruitt pointed out that what the President is focused on is making sure we have clean water, clean air and making sure we have the best deal for American workers,” he said.

Spicer has consistently dodged that question. Top White House aide Kellyanne Conway has refused to answer the question as well, as has the director of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn.

Trump has said “I’m not a believer in global warming. I’m not a believer in man-made global warming.” And he has called climate change a hoax created by the Chinese in order to economically damage America.

In his speech announcing that the United States would withdraw from the Paris accord Thursday, Trump used similarly conspiratorial language, saying, “A cynic would say the obvious reason for economic competitors and their wish to see us remain in the agreement is so that we continue to suffer this self-inflicted major economic wound.”

However, if Trump’s decisions on climate policy are driven by his disbelief in the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting man-made climate change, his White House doesn’t want to admit it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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