After Weeks of Silence, Trump Will Visit Fire-Ravaged California

He’s all but certain to continue his recent efforts to greenwash his climate record.

Will Lester/Orange County Register/ZUMA

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Nearly one month after fires started to rage across California, President Trump will travel to the state on Monday for a briefing with emergency response officials. The visit comes amid intense criticism over Trump’s near-total silence over the catastrophic fires that have consumed whole communities on the west coast, killing at least 19 people in California and 10 in Oregon, with dozens still missing.

The president’s first public statement of support came in a tweet on Friday, in which he thanked firefighters and first responders and appeared to suggest that he had taken action to alleviate the situation. “I have approved 37 Stafford Act Declarations,” he tweeted, referring to a federal law that allows funding assistance for natural disasters, “including Fire Management Grants to support their brave work.” But it was difficult to square that show of support with Trump’s remarks last month, when he appeared to threaten to withhold emergency funds for the state because he believed the fires had been California’s fault. “I said, you gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests,” Trump told supporters at a rally in Pennsylvania. “There are many, many years of leaves and broken trees and they’re like, like, so flammable, you touch them and it goes up.”

He added, “Maybe we’re just going to have to make them pay for it because they don’t listen to us.”

In the three weeks since those remarks—a time period that has seen devastating loss to a state already grappling with the threat of the coronavirus pandemic—Trump has been occupied with everything but the wildfires. Instead, he has spent his days relentlessly attacking his political opponents and fighting off controversies sparked by his own remarks, including his lies about the pandemic and his alleged disparaging of American soldiers who died in combat. By his own admission, the president has also been consumed by television.

In a press conference on Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom condemned Trump for his record on climate change and policies to roll back critical environmental protections. Trump is all but certain to continue his recent efforts to greenwash that record as he heads to California tomorrow. Here are reminders from my colleagues of Trump’s longstanding climate denial and plans to gut environmental rules.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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