Trump apparently felt nudged to scrap the Paris accord by the French president's aggressive handshake
President Trump was always inclined to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement to fight climate change, and he announced Thursday he will do so, after months of contentious White House debate that didn't even really take into account "the environmental and public health consequences of climate change," according to Axios. Case in point:
Instead, business leaders, economic adviser Gary Cohn, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and daughter Ivanka Trump spoke of the economic and diplomatic problems of quitting the global accord. They were outmaneuvered by chief strategist Stephen Bannon, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and budget chief Mick Mulvaney, who brought in reams of charts and statistics dismissed as "either erroneous, scientifically dubious, misleading, or out of date" by opponents of ditching the Paris Agreement, The Washington Post reports.
Trump's "final, deliberative verdict was the same as his initial, gut-level one," the Post says, basing its "account of Trump's decision-making process" on interviews with "more than a dozen administration officials, Trump confidants, Republican operatives, and European diplomats." Kellyanne Conway said that Trump "stayed where he's always been, and not for a lack of trying by those who have an opposite opinion." Some of that trying came from European leaders, who marshaled economic, moral, environmental, and global power arguments to persuade Trump to keep the U.S. in the agreement during the G7 summit in Sicily.
That might have backfired, The Washington Post says. "One senior White House official characterized disappointing European allies as 'a secondary benefit' of Trump's decision to withdraw." And there was one "nudge" to quit Paris in particular, from French President Emmanuel Macron:
Macron was quoted in a French journal talking about his white-knuckled handshake with Trump at their first meeting in Brussels, where the newly elected French president gripped Trump's hand tightly and would not let go for six long seconds in a show of alpha-male fortitude. ... Hearing smack-talk from the Frenchman 31 years his junior irritated and bewildered Trump, aides said. A few days later, Trump got his revenge. He proclaimed from the Rose Garden, "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris." [The Washington Post]
Pittsburgh, it should be noted, took Europe's side. And Macron may have gotten, once again, the last laugh.