On Monday, before the close of the G7 meetings in France, the heads of those nations gathered to talk about climate change and what could be done to address the warming of our planet. Donald Trump didn’t go.
“The President had scheduled meetings and bilaterals with Germany and India, so a senior member of the Administration attended in his stead,” press secretary Stephanie Grisham said by way of explanation for Trump’s absence.
Except that Trump seemed to think – or at least said – that the climate change meeting was later in the day and that he hadn’t missed it at all. From the pool report:
“Asked if he attended the climate session, Potus says ‘we’re having it in a little while.’ He didn’t appear to hear when a reporter told him it just happened.”
So, which is it? Did he have other pressing commitments? Or did he think it was later? Or are neither of those things true? (HINT: It’s the last one!)
Let’s rule out the idea that Trump just had the climate meeting down on his schedule wrong. He has a slew of advisers to keep track of where he is going and when. Plus, there are only seven world leaders in attendance – so, if the other six are all in one place, it’s sort of hard to imagine Trump and his team couldn’t figure it out pretty quickly.
Which brings us to the official White House claim that Trump had “scheduled meetings and bilaterals with Germany and India” which is why he couldn’t go to the climate change meeting.
As CNN’s Jim Sciutto pointed out, both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were in the climate change meeting. (There’s visual evidence!) That fact gives us these options by way of explaining the White House position:
1) Modi and Merkel have been cloned and can appear in two places at once
2) Trump was meeting not with the heads of Germany and India but with lower-level staff
3) The official White House line is total bunk
I’m no scientist but option No. 1 feels far-fetched. Option No. 2 is also ridiculous, because if anyone would see it as beneath him to meet with staff rather than the principals, it’s Donald Trump. Which leaves us, by process of elimination, with Option No. 3 – the White House isn’t telling the truth.
I know, you’re stunned.
Remember that Trump had, according to CNN reporting, looked for a way not to attend this G7 summit. At last year’s G7, he refused to sign a statement of agreement between the leaders and, as Air Force One was jetting back to the United States, he attacked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trump also pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, blasting the idea that he needed to worry about what other world leaders – and the global community – thought of that decision. (Trump has also repeatedly expressed skepticism about climate change, once describing it as a hoax cooked up by the Chinese.)
In short: Every sign we have is pointing to the fact that Trump a) doesn’t want to be at the G7 and b) is unwilling to make nice – even for show – with the other leaders and c) has long been a climate change doubter.
Add it all up and you get this: Donald Trump didn’t accidentally forget the climate change meeting. He didn’t decide he wanted to meet with staff from the governments of India and Germany. He just didn’t want to go. He didn’t want to sit around and be, in his mind, lectured by foreign leaders about how he needs to think and feel about the issue.
So, he skipped it. And then the White House, as they are so often forced to do, scrambled to suggest this was all part of some broader plan – when provable facts make clear it, well, wasn’t.
This is the Trump presidency in a nutshell: The most powerful country in the world being run by a man who acts on whim and gut instinct, and cares little about what trouble his actions cause.