Stories

Trump is draining White House of science

President Donald Trump arrives for the G7 official welcome at Le Manoir Richelieu. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

As President Trump defends his means of preparedness for the historic summit with North Korea, the New York Times points out that he is doing so absent of a science adviser to the White House, or a senior counselor trained in nuclear physics.

Why it matters: The veteran negotiator is sticking to his trademark of running matters his own way as the Times details that he is "the first president since 1941 not to name a science adviser." And former nuclear negotiators caution that the lack of an adviser with such experience in the field "could put him at a tactical disadvantage in one of the weightiest diplomatic matters of his presidency."

He's not alone: The State Department, too, is without a chief scientist to handle matters including global warming and cybersecurity. As is the Department of Agriculture — its nominee, Sam Clovis, a former talk-show host with no scientific background, per the Times, withdrew his name, and the administration has not followed up with a nomination to the position since.

The impact, per the Times: "These and other decisions have consequences for public health and safety and the economy. Both the Interior Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have disbanded climate science advisory committees. The Food and Drug Administration disbanded its Food Advisory Committee, which provided guidance on food safety."

The big picture: Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton, tells the Times: "I don’t think there’s ever been a time in the post-World War II period where issues as important as nuclear weapons are on the table, and there is no serious scientist there to help the president through the thicket."