Woo­ing press, Trump soft­ens cli­mate stance

The Myanmar Times - - World -

DON­ALD Trump sig­nalled that his cam­paign trail dis­missal of the threat of cli­mate change may have been hot air af­ter all, say­ing he was “open-minded” on sup­port­ing global ac­cords.

The US pres­i­dent-elect emerged from cab­i­net-build­ing talks in his Trump Tower head­quar­ters on Novem­ber 22 and trav­elled 10 min­utes across town to The New York Times to give a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view on his plans.

He dis­avowed “alt-right” ac­tivists who hailed his elec­tion as a vic­tory for white supremacy, dis­tanced him­self from calls to pros­e­cute Hil­lary Clin­ton and de­fended his global busi­ness em­pire.

And he ap­peared to soften his pledge to pull the United States out of ac­cords such as last year’s COP21 Paris Agree­ment, that binds coun­tries to na­tional pledges to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions.

“I’m look­ing at it very closely. I have an open mind to it,” he told New York Times jour­nal­ists over lunch at their head­quar­ters, ac­cord­ing to the pa­per’s own ac­count.

Cam­paign­ing ahead of Novem­ber 8, Mr Trump re­peat­edly told crowds of rust­belt and south­ern vot­ers – fac­tory work­ers, coal min­ers and oil­men – that he would tear up in­ter­na­tional cli­mate agree­ments.

As far back as 2012 he had tweeted, “The con­cept of global warm­ing was cre­ated by and for the Chi­nese in or­der to make US man­u­fac­tur­ing non-com­pet­i­tive.”

Now elected and due to be­come pres­i­dent on Jan­uary 20, when he was con­fronted by Times colum­nist Thomas Friedman he ad­mit­ted there may be a link be­tween hu­man in­dus­try and global warm­ing.

“I think there is some con­nec­tiv­ity. Some, some­thing. It de­pends on how much,” he said, adding he would nev­er­the­less re­main con­cerned about how much green mea­sures would “cost our com­pa­nies”.

The New York Times sit-down, which fol­lowed a re­port­edly hos­tile off-the-record clash with TV net­work chiefs, ap­peared to rep­re­sent a tem­po­rary truce with the hated me­dia.

Mr Trump reg­u­larly in­sults the “fail­ing New York Times” in tweets, but dis­tanced him­self from threats to toughen li­bel laws and en­gaged cheer­fully with the pa­per.

“I do read it. Un­for­tu­nately,” he said. “I’d live about 20 years longer if I didn’t.”

He also, un­der re­peated ques­tion­ing, de­nounced the so-called al­tright, af­ter lead­ers of the move­ment met in Wash­ing­ton at the week­end and cel­e­brated his vic­tory with Nazi salutes and cheers.

Mr Trump also said that he was re­con­sid­er­ing his po­si­tion favour­ing the au­tho­ri­sa­tion of tor­tur­ing de­tainees af­ter sit­ting down with re­tired gen­eral James Mat­tis over the week­end to dis­cuss nam­ing him as sec­re­tary of de­fense.

He re­ported that he would “love” to clinch a deal to end the in­tractable con­flict be­tween Israel and the Pales­tini­ans, but on the blood­shed in Syria, Mr Trump was more vague, say­ing, “We have to end the crazi­ness that’s go­ing on.”

Mr Trump gushed in his ad­mi­ra­tion for Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, whom he will re­place in the White House, telling the pa­per, de­spite the ag­gres­sive tone of his cam­paign, he had been hon­oured to meet Mr Obama. And he stepped back from threats to pros­e­cute his de­feated ri­val Ms Clin­ton.

Dur­ing the cam­paign, Mr Trump had ac­cused Ms Clin­ton of il­le­gally de­stroy­ing email records to cover up wrong­do­ing and al­leged fraud at her char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion – as his fans chanted “Lock her up”.

Mr Trump was asked by The New York Times whether he stood by a threat, made to Ms Clin­ton’s face in their sec­ond de­bate, to ap­point a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor to in­ves­ti­gate her “many crimes”.

“I think it would be very, very di­vi­sive for the coun­try,” the pres­i­den­t­elect said.

In com­mon with his pre­de­ces­sors, the Repub­li­can bil­lion­aire has been in no hurry to name a cab­i­net, leav­ing the re­porters gath­ered un­der Trump Tower chas­ing af­ter ru­mours as he holds court above.

And if the Wash­ing­ton po­lit­i­cal class was ex­pect­ing the pop­ulist provo­ca­teur of the cam­paign trail to hire a top team from the in­sti­tu­tional main­stream, it could well be dis­ap­pointed.

His picks in­clude a chief strate­gist who is a self-de­scribed “eco­nomic na­tion­al­ist” and a na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser who – eased into re­tire­ment by Mr Obama – went to dine with Vladimir Putin.

And why would Mr Trump, a 70-year-old ty­coon and re­al­ity tele­vi­sion star whose de­fi­ance of po­lit­i­cal norms led him to win the world’s high­est of­fice in his first foray into an elec­tion, change now?

Ac­cord­ing to two opin­ion polls a ma­jor­ity of vot­ers are op­ti­mistic that his ef­forts to “make Amer­ica great again” will lead the na­tion to a brighter fu­ture.

Ac­cord­ing to data from Quin­nip­iac Univer­sity, most vot­ers think he should stop tweet­ing but, by a mar­gin of 59 to 37, most “are op­ti­mistic about the next four years with Don­ald Trump as pres­i­dent”.

A sim­i­lar CNN/ORC poll found a nar­row ma­jor­ity, 53pc of vot­ers, thought Mr Trump would do a good job. –

Photo: AFP

US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump leaves af­ter a meet­ing at The New York Times head­quar­ters on Novem­ber 22.

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