Last night the Washington Post‘s on-again, off-again environmental reporter Juliet Eilperin reported that the balance of opinion inside the Trump White House is against remaining in the Paris Climate Agreement. (I describe Eilperin here as “on-again, off-again” because the Post had to remove her from the environmental beat while her husband was working for the Obama administration’s climate change policy at the State Department. Even the Post could see this was a conflict of interest, but it also tells you all you need to know about Eilperin, whom we have repeatedly called out for shoddy and biased reporting here on Power Line—just do a search in our search window.)
This would be great news if true, but I am skeptical of this story. Eiplerin may be correct, or perhaps this is a false flag story designed to help rally the remainers. There are some markers in her story, such as these paragraphs:
On Thursday several Cabinet members — including Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who’s called for exiting the accord, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who wants it renegotiated, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who advocates remaining a party to it — met with top White House advisers, including Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Both Ivanka Trump and Kushner advocate remaining part of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, even though the president has repeatedly criticized the global warming deal.
During that meeting, according to several people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, White House counsel Don McGahn informed participants that the United States could not remain in the agreement and lower the level of carbon cuts it would make by 2025.
So just who are these anonymous sources Eilperin talked to? I suspect Ivanka and Jared Kushner, who are known to want to remain in the treaty. Anyone really think McGahn or Pruitt would talk to Eilperin? The customary pattern for anonymous leaks is when a party on the losing end of a policy argument wants to bring it to public light to box in the other side before it is ready.
This passage is a dead giveaway:
Ivanka Trump urged White House staff secretary Rob Porter to convene a second meeting Monday with lawyers from both the White House and the State Department. That session addressed the question of America’s obligations under the 2015 deal as well as whether remaining in the agreement would make it more difficult for the administration to legally defend the changes it was making to the federal government’s existing climate policies, but it did not reach a final decision.
And the story ends with a textbook example of what my old mentor M. Stanton Evans called “ventriloquist journalism”—citing experts and sources that essentially transform your “news” story into an advocacy piece:
But Paul Bledsoe, who served as a White House climate adviser under Bill Clinton and is now a lecturer at American University’s Center for Environmental Policy, warned that the administration might face serious pushback from abroad if Trump seeks to withdraw from the agreement.
“The Trump team seems oblivious to the fact that climate protection is now viewed by leading allies and nations around the world as a key measure of moral and diplomatic standing,” Bledsoe said in an email. “The U.S. would be risking pariah status on the international stage by withdrawing from Paris, and even a fig leaf approach of technically staying in the agreement while ignoring most of its provisions would be better than pulling out altogether.”
PAUL ADDS: If one focuses on President Trump’s advisers, I’m pretty sure that, as Steve suggests, the weight of opinion inside his administration favors remaining in the Paris Climate Agreement. On that side of the dispute, from what I’ve heard, you find Ivanka Trump, her husband Jared Kushner, Gary Cohn, Rex Tillerson, and probably Rick Perry. On the other side, again based on my sources, there is Mike Pence, Scott Pruitt, Steve Bannon, and Stephen Miller.
That could be a mismatch.
But what does the president think? He may well believe that the deal is bad for America and especially for the Americans whose votes made him president. Trump’s past statements would lead one to believe that’s how he views it. If so, it may not matter that heavy hitters among his close advisers view the matter differently. As Steve says, maybe we won’t always have Paris.