Trump announced his Paris accord decision Thursday
His staff can't seem to answer whether he believes climate change is real
President Donald Trump’s top aides apparently have no idea whether he believes humans have a role in climate change or if it’s even real. And seemingly won’t ask him.
Days after the question was first posed, the White House still will not answer if Trump believes that climate change is a hoax.
Trump’s personal views on climate change have been in the spotlight since the President opted to leave the sweeping, multi-national Paris climate agreement during a Rose Garden ceremony on Thursday. But a series of top Trump aides have dodged, spun and obfuscated when asked whether the President believes climate change is happening.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said earlier this week he didn’t know whether Trump believes climate change is happening.
“Honestly, I haven’t asked him that,” Spicer said. “I can get back to you.”
On Friday, Spicer was asked again.
“I have not had the opportunity to specifically talk to the President about that,” he said.
Scott Pruitt, Trump’s administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, said Thursday on CNN that the debate over the Paris agreement is “not about whether climate change is occurring or not.”
He did not answer whether Trump, as he has said before, believes climate change is a hoax.
Pruitt again would not answer when asked twice in Friday’s White House briefing, saying that was not what the decision was focused on.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told CNN’s “New Day” on Friday that while he doesn’t “believe (climate change) is a hoax,” he was unable to answer whether Trump agrees.
“I do not speak for the President,” Zinke said, later adding that he had not asked him.
At no point was Zinke able to shed light on Trump’s climate change views.
“You should ask him that and I hope you have a chance,” Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump confidante and White House adviser, said Friday on ABC. When pressed, Conway said Trump “believes in clean air, clean water, a clean environment and believes we have to negotiate better deals for this country.”
And Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic adviser, deflected when asked the same question by CNN on Thursday.
“I am answering what the President is committed to,” he said, later adding, “You are going to have to ask him. You are going to have to actually ask him.”
Journalists would love to. But Trump has largely avoided answering questions in recent weeks. The last formal questions the President took were when he met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on May 18.
His last – and only – full news conference as president was in February.
Trump, long before he was president, said that climate change was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. He has also long cast himself as someone who doesn’t “believe” in global warming, suggesting that the scientific fact is a belief, not a fact.
“I’m not a believer in man-made global warming,” he told Hugh Hewitt in 2015. “But the problem we have, and if you look at our energy costs, and all of the things that we’re doing to solve a problem that I don’t think in any major fashion exists.”
But his own White House aides have suggested that his view on climate change are irrelevant when talking about the Paris climate agreement, an accord meant to combat rising temperatures and carbon emissions.
“Can we stay on topic please,” a White House official said during a background briefing after Trump’s announcement.
“I have not talked to the President about his personal views on whether – I was not with the President on his trip,” the official added. “I did not talk to the President about his personal views on what is contributing to climate change.”