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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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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