Tussles over White House climate policy proved central to internal warfare over direction of Trump administration, according to explosive new book
President Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement was a major victory for former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon in his bid to control the future policy direction of the White House.
That is just one of many revelations found in the explosive new book on the Trump presidency, Fire and Fury by journalist and author Michael Wolff. Alongside a host of stories about the dysfunction at the heart of the Trump administration, the book details how Bannon used climate policy to score a political victory over Trump’s other key advisors, his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The book reveals how, in the midst of a bitter internal war where Kushner and Ivanka Trump were allegedly lobbying for Bannon to be fired, the Breitbart chief scored a key victory by convincing Trump to sign Executive Order 13783 in March 2017 to “effectively gut” the National Environmental Policy Act.
Despite Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s conviction the President would listen to them on environmental matters, the book suggests Bannon’s vocal “timbre” ensured Trump listened to his advice on EO 13783. The order removed requirements for executive agencies to consider the climate change impacts of their actions.
“The president did not truly listen to anybody,” the book reports. “The more you talked, the less he listened. ‘But Steve [Bannon] is
careful about what he says, and there is something, a timbre in his voice and his energy and excitement, that the president can really hone in on, blocking everything else out’, said [Katie] Walsh [former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Implementation].”
The book alleges that the victory for Bannon on EO13783 paved the way for President Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, in the face of “bitter” internal lobbying by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, who were both keen to secure a White House policy of “progressive rationality, compassion and good works”.
For Bannon, the move to quit Paris was a “deeply satisfying slap in the face of liberal rectitude – Elon Musk and Bob Iger immediately resigned from Trump’s business council – and confirmation of Trump’s true Bannonite instincts”, the book reports.
It was also a crucial victory against his internal foes, as it publicly torpedoed a policy Ivanka Trump had campaigned vigorously to defend. According to Wolff, on hearing the President’s decision Bannon celebrated the result by cheering: “Score. The bitch is dead.”
Trump has dismissed Wolff’s account, based on interviews with numerous White House insiders, as a “Fake Book” that is “boring” and “untruthful”.
In a statement last week Trump said Bannon “lost his mind” when he was fired from the White House in August 2017, and dismissed claims over his influence over the administration. “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” he insisted in a statement.
The release of the controversial book earlier this week comes at the close of a tumultuous first year for the Trump Presidency. Despite numerous legislative setbacks in other areas, Trump has made in-roads with his efforts to dismantle much of President Obama’s environmental policy agenda.
Most recently the White House unveiled proposals to open up vast swathes of US waters to fossil fuel exploration in what Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke described as a move for “American energy dominance”.
The proposals would be a huge departure from current regulation, which puts 94 per cent of US offshore waters off limits for oil and gas exploration.
The administration has also made moves to repeal Obama’s Clean Power Plan, water down regulations on coal mines and power plants, and roll back a raft of National Park protections.