Sep 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump to visit California amid unprecedented wildfires

Firefighters in Butte County, California, watch a tower of flame on Sept. 9.

Firefighters in Butte County, California, watch a tower of flame on Sept. 9. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump will meet with local and federal fire and emergency response authorities near Sacramento, California, on Monday amid an unprecedented series of wildfires criss-crossing the state, a White House official confirmed to Politico on Saturday.

Why it matters: The trip comes as the president faces criticism for not publicly addressing the blazes as they rage across California, Oregon and Washington state.

Of note: Trump did not mention the wildfires for at least three weeks — waiting until Friday to say via tweet that he supports firefighters and first responders who are confronting the fires across Western states.

  • "THANK YOU to the 28,000+ Firefighters and other First Responders who are battling wildfires across California, Oregon, and Washington," the president tweeted. "I have approved 37 Stafford Act Declarations, including Fire Management Grants to support their brave work. We are with them all the way!"

What they're saying: "Since mid-August, President Trump and Governor Newsom have spoken by phone and the White House and FEMA have remained in constant contact with State and local officials throughout the response to these natural disasters,'' White House spokesman Judd Deere told Politico.

  • "The President continues to support those who are battling raging wildfires in a locally-executed, state-managed, and federally-supported emergency response."

The big picture: In response to the destruction caused by the West Coast wildfires, Joe Biden said in a statement Saturday: "The science is clear, and deadly signs like these are unmistakable — climate change poses an imminent, existential threat to our way of life."

  • "President Trump can try to deny that reality, but the facts are undeniable. We absolutely must act now to avoid a future defined by an unending barrage of tragedies like the one American families are enduring across the West today."
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