June 02, 2017

1 big thing: Defiant Trump never wavered

The "debate" was mostly a charade. A source who spends a lot of time with President Trump has never heard him say a positive thing about the Paris climate accord.

Ivanka Trump was optimistic to the end that she could change her father's mind.

But in retrospect, it turns out that the notion he was going to stay in the deal was always fanciful.

  • The bottom line, from Axios' Jonathan Swan: The speech Trump gave in the Rose Garden was the most full-throated expression of populist nationalism we've seen since his inauguration. This was campaign Trump, and he looked like he was loving it in the Rose Garden, with his supporters cheering his applause lines and a jazz band warming up the crowd in the sun.

Behind the scenes, from my conversations and Swan's notebook:

  • What Trump was thinking: "This is religion for the political left, and our supporters are constantly being asked to change their behavior," a top West Wing aide told me, adding that the "snarky comments" from European leaders didn't help. The aide said Trump resented the corporate critics who "ride in fossil-fuel-guzzling planes and SUVs, then act holier-than-thou."
  • The supporters: In the president's inner circle, key advocates for withdrawal included Vice President Pence; chief strategist Steve Bannon; senior adviser Kellyanne Conway; White House Counsel Don McGahn; Stephen Miller, his top speechwriter; EPA administrator Scott Pruitt; and Marc Short, his congressional liaison.
  • The withdrawal is a huge disappointment for Ivanka, who pressed hard for her father to stay in the deal. Economic adviser Gary Cohn and SecState Rex Tillerson supported her.
  • The non-profit Competitive Enterprise Institute played a big role in rallying outside conservative groups. An administration source says CEI was "the energy" and "enabled the issue to stay high profile in the White House for months." CEI marshaled a coalition letter of influential outside groups, and helped generate the letter from the 22 Republican senators — including Mitch McConnell — that gave Trump crucial ammo.

2. This is big

The decision is galvanizing opponents in a way that neither side fully anticipated, with a drive under way to meet the U.S. commitments in spite of Trump ... N.Y. Times p. A12, "Bucking Trump, These Cities, States and Companies Embrace Accord," by Hiroko Tabuch and Henry Fountain:

  • "Representatives of American cities, states and companies are preparing to submit a plan to the United Nations pledging to meet the United States' greenhouse gas emissions targets under the Paris climate accord, despite President Trump's decision to withdraw from the agreement."
  • "The unnamed group — which, so far, includes 30 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses — is negotiating with the United Nations to have its submission accepted alongside contributions to the Paris climate deal by other nations."
  • "Bloomberg Philanthropies, Mr. Bloomberg's charitable organization, is offering to donate $14 million over the next two years to help fund the budget should it be needed, a spokeswoman said. That figure represents the United States' share, she said."

3. A big winner: Al Gore

"Ten years ago, 'An Inconvenient Truth,' the documentary about Al Gore giving a slideshow presentation about an obscure scientific issue, became an unlikely blockbuster that sparked a global conversation about the climate crisis."

In a convenient coincidence, "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power" — trailer herehits theaters July 28 (Paramount Pictures, with Partiicant Media).

A Gore source tells me in an email that it now appears Trump has given the film a new ending, and a real sense of urgency:

  • People familiar with the project are pointing to a significant advocacy campaign around the film that will use the movie, the film's subject and a combination of media and advocacy to mobilize people in cities across the country.
  • Groups like the Sierra Club, the Climate Reality Project and Indivisible, as well as leaders in the business and investor communities, are joining forces to make this a summer of action around climate.
  • "The goal is to help fill the gap left by the Trump administration."
  • "The unifying theme: If President Trump won't lead on this important issue, then the American people will."

P.S., from The Wrap's Matt Donnelly: "Filmmakers behind 'An Inconvenient Sequel' ... ... will update the movie to include Trump's Thursday withdrawal ... The climax of the film sees Gore riding through the streets of Paris, wheeling and dealing to get people on board for the agreement ahead of United Nations 2015 Climate Change Conference."

4. The world stage

  • N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Mary Robinson, a former United Nations special envoy for climate change: "The U.S. reneging on its commitment to the Paris Agreement renders it a rogue state on the international stage."
  • N.Y Times front-page analysis, "Trump Hands the Chinese a Gift: The Chance for Global Leadership," by David Sanger and Jane Perlez: "Trump has managed to turn America First into America Isolated."
  • AP analysis by Julie Pace: "Trump's decision ... sends an unmistakable message to the world: America First can mean America Alone."
  • L.A. Times: California "Gov. Jerry Brown, America's unofficial climate change ambassador in the Trump era, heads to China."

5. Business pans decision

  • Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, in his first (and only) tweet: "Today's decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.'s leadership position in the world. #ParisAgreement."
  • Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger tweets: "As a matter of principle, I've resigned from the President's Council over the #ParisAgreement withdrawal."
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweets: "Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world."
  • Wall Street Journal, "Firms See Little Change After Exit": "Many large companies said they wouldn't change course ... Companies are responding to customer and shareholder demands to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Many operate in states and countries that are putting in place climate rules and thus face pressures beyond the U.S. government.
  • "Firms are buying natural gas and renewable electricity that emit less pollutants because they are becoming cheaper. And many are making long-term capital investments to reduce their carbon footprints with an eye toward future decades, not the current election cycle."
  • "Paris Exit: Less Than Meets The Eye" — Wall Street Journal "Heard on the Street Column," top of front page under main headline, by Spencer Jakab: "U.S. regulations aimed at meeting Paris goals weren't a burden for all. Exxon Mobil, for example, stood to benefit from at least three elements."

6. Trump, in his own words

Trump spoke in the Rose Garden for 31 minutes:

The Paris Agreement handicaps the United States economy in order to win praise from the very foreign capitals and global activists that have long sought to gain wealth at our country's expense. They don't put America first. I do, and I always will. (Applause.)

The same nations asking us to stay in the agreement are the countries that have collectively cost America trillions of dollars through tough trade practices and, in many cases, lax contributions to our critical military alliance. You see what's happening. It's pretty obvious to those that want to keep an open mind.

At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us as a country? We want fair treatment for its citizens, and we want fair treatment for our taxpayers. We don't want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore. And they won't be. They won't be.

I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris. (Applause.)

7. The future of work

The opioid epidemic. Stagnating wages. The anti-establishment political wave. All are linked to the start of a new industrial age in which robotics, automation and artificial intelligence are changing the nature of work, Axios' Chris Matthews writes.

This is the beginning of a social, political and economic transformation that Axios is tracking as part of a new Future of Work stream and newsletter.

Subscribe free here.

8. Tweet du jour

That's Don Stewart, deputy chief of staff and chief spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

9. Sign of the apocalypse

10. 1 fun thing

"Girl gets into Yale after penning essay on Papa John's pizza," by ABC "Good Morning America":

Carolina Williams of Brentwood, Tennessee, .... received notes from the ... admissions team that singled out an application essay she wrote about her love for Papa John's pizza. ... "I think it stood out because it was just very genuine and reflective of me and it was kind of taking a risk, I guess."

Williams wrote about ordering Papa John's pizza in reply to a 200-words or less essay prompt to write about what you love to do. ... Williams wrote about how ordering from the pizza chain gave her independence as a child and was used as both a source of consolation and celebration as she grew up.

"As a fellow lover of pizza, I laughed out loud (then ordered pizza) after reading your application," read one note to Williams from Yale's admissions team, while another read, "I laughed so hard on your pizza essay. I kept thinking that you are the kind of person that I would love to be best friends with."