White House ducks questions over president’s climate change beliefs

White House ducks questions over president’s climate change beliefs

President Donald Trump announced the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline in the Oval Office on March 24, surrounded by his cabinent, senior aides and president of TransCanada Russ Girling. (Photo: Greg Clugston)

WASHINGTON  — One day after President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would be leaving the Paris climate accord, administration officials have not explained his views on climate change.

During a press briefing Friday, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt was asked if Trump believes that climate change is man-made and a threat, a view shared by the vast majority of the scientific community.

“All the discussions we’ve had in the past several weeks have been focused on one singular issue: Is Paris good or not for this country,” Pruitt said. “That’s the discussions I’ve had with the president. That’s been my focus.”

Pruitt gave a similar response to follow-up attempts from reporters seeking additional clarity.

As Vox has reported, the president has expressed skepticism over climate change 115 times on Twitter, including six tweets in which he suggested global warming is a “hoax.”

During the first presidential debate last year, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton invoked Trump’s claim that global warming was a hoax propagated by the Chinese government, to which Trump shot back,, “I do not say that, I do not say that.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked on Tuesday if the president believes that human activity causes climate change and replied that he had not discussed that issue with the president but would follow up.

On Friday, Spicer said that he has still “not had the opportunity to have that discussion.”

An administration official briefing reporters on background following the president’s announcement on the accord said that he similarly did not know the president’s views.

In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Friday, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway was asked if the president believes that climate change is a hoax.

Conway responded that Stephanopoulos should ask the president.

On Tuesday, reporters attempted to bring the question to Trump directly while he met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc in the Oval Office.

“Do you believe that climate change is a hoax still?” one reporter asked.

“Thank you, everybody,” Trump said in response, signaling that the press should be lead out of the room.

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