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"Au revoir" to the Paris deal

Evan Vucci / AP

What happened behind the scenes: President Trump this afternoon is expected to uncork his stunning withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, a decision that Axios' Jonathan Swan scooped yesterday.

Ahead of the 3 p.m. Rose Garden announcement, AP says aides were deliberating on "caveats in the language."

Swan sends AM readers this fascinating postcard from behind the scenes:

  • Want to know how volatile many administration officials consider Trump? As the sun went down on Wednesday, Trump had told confidants, including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, that he was withdrawing from the Paris deal. A withdrawal speech had been drafted and redrafted. An announcement for the withdrawal had been planned for Thursday (today). A whole team of policy wonks inside the EPA had been told to work up mechanisms for withdrawal.
  • AND YET, numerous White House officials told me in confidence throughout the day that while they were as sure as could be that Trump would pull the trigger, they wouldn't believe it until they saw it.
  • [The West Wing buzzed] about the West Coast elites like Elon Musk and Tim Cook, who were making last-ditch pleas to Trump. And movement conservatives vented to me about the liberal influence of Ivanka.
  • All the while, Trump kept asking people's opinions, and expressing doubt, even after setting the train in full motion towards withdrawal. When this thing is over, a good number of West Wing staff will have acquired some new gray hairs.

Sound smart: Allies say Trump — with no ironclad policy convictions on climate, and buffeted by conflicting campaigns from rival advisers — defaulted toward delivering on a campaign promise that catered to his last refuge, the voters who put him in office.

Yet to be sorted: consequences for the party, the planet, and the U.S. role on the globe.