Two high-level closed-door meetings at the White House, which included Trump’s most senior lawyer Don McGahn, appear to hint at a shift in the consensus between Trump’s advisors. There are concerns that there will be legal ramifications for remaining in the pact, in that America’s participation will put Trump’s other plans – such as nixing Obama-era emissions-cutting programs – at risk in the courts.
Although a final agreement has not yet been reached at present, this is a deeply worrying turn of events. Trump has long promised during campaigning that he would withdraw from the pact within his first 100 days in office, something he has failed to do. Whenever pressed on the matter, White House officials tended to say that they were still undecided.
It appears that several of his advisors, including his daughter Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, as well as climate change denier Rick Perry, the (inexplicable) head of the Department of Energy, advocate staying in the agreement in order to keep American influence on the table.
Some, including Perry and the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, wish for the pact to be renegotiated, although it’s not clear how possible that would be.
Others, including the fossil fuel-friendly head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scott Pruitt and ex-Breitbart editor Steve Bannon, have strongly advised the president to withdraw from the agreement.
Withdrawing from the agreement would certainly energize Trump’s base of voters, who appear to be holding steady, but it risks toxifying the presidency further and lowering global opinion of the current administration.
Remaining in the pact would see Trump’s America First brand of isolationism severely damaged, and it would enrage his supporters – but environmentalists and the other 190+ signatories would be massively relieved.
Don McGahn, a senior counsel to Trump, leaves Trump Tower earlier this year. Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images
According to Politico, McGahn’s legal interpretation of the Paris agreement – that remaining in it would prevent the administration from challenging carbon-cutting measures in the courts – came as a surprise to State Department lawyers serving under Tillerson, who strongly disputed this hypothesis.
The Hill reports that at a Saturday rally, the president told supporters that the agreement was “one-sided” and would greatly cost the US economy, something that all credible sources say is completely untrue.
“The United States pays the costs and bears the burdens while other countries get the benefit and pay nothing,” he said. Apart from the fact that the flourishing clean energy sector will generate far more jobs than the coal or oil industries possibly could at this point, we’d say saving the planet from a climate change nightmare is a pretty solid benefit to the US.