Donald Trump’s chief strategist and EPA administrator maneuvered for months to get the president to exit the Paris climate accord, shrewdly playing to his populist instincts and publicly pressing the narrative that the nearly 200-nation deal was effectively dead — boxing in the president on one of his highest-profile decisions to date.
Steve Bannon and Scott Pruitt have sought to outsmart the administration’s pro-Paris group of advisers, including Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who were hoping the president could be swayed by a global swell of support for the deal from major corporations, U.S. allies, Al Gore and even the pope. But some of that pro-Paris sentiment wound up being surprisingly tepid, according to White House aides who had expected that European leaders would make a stronger case during Trump’s trip abroad earlier this month.
Those who want Trump to remain also faced an insurmountable hurdle: The president has long believed, rightly or wrongly, that the U.S. is getting a raw deal under the accord, and it proved nearly impossible to change his mind.
The internal reality show will culminate Thursday when Trump finally announces his decision, after a rush of leaks Wednesday from administration officials saying he was on the verge of pulling the plug on U.S. participation in history’s most comprehensive global climate agreement.
“I will be announcing my decision on Paris Accord, Thursday at 3:00 P.M.,” Trump tweeted Wednesday night, without revealing the outcome. “The White House Rose Garden. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
Some White House aides held out the prospect that the president still might take the middle course that Ivanka Trump and others had advocated — staying in the deal while drastically scaling back the Obama administration’s non-binding carbon cleanup promises. But three White House officials said Wednesday that they expect Trump to make a clean break by withdrawing from the agreement, though they noted it’s possible the president changes his mind at the last minute.