The Trump administration’s effort to delegitimize its own climate change report continued Tuesday night, with President Trump declaring himself not a “believer” of the 1,600-page National Climate Assessment, which paints a dire picture of the coming effects of global warming.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Trump cited his own “high levels of intelligence” when asked why he was skeptical of the report, which was prepared with the input of 13 different federal agencies and 300 scientists. “One of the problems that a lot of people like myself — we have very high levels of intelligence, but we’re not necessarily such believers,” Trump said.
The full, rambling, hardly coherent digression that followed has to be read to be believed:
DAWSEY: You said yesterday when you were leaving that you were skeptical of a climate change report that the government had done. Can you just explain why you’re skeptical of that report?
TRUMP: One of the problems that a lot of people like myself — we have very high levels of intelligence, but we’re not necessarily such believers. You look at our air and our water, and it’s right now at a record clean. But when you look at China and you look at parts of Asia and when you look at South America, and when you look at many other places in this world, including Russia, including — just many other places — the air is incredibly dirty. And when you’re talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small. And it blows over and it sails over. I mean, we take thousands of tons of garbage off our beaches all the time that comes over from Asia. It just flows right down the Pacific, it flows, and we say where does this come from. And it takes many people to start off with.
In a matter of 152 words, Trump manages to laud his own brainpower before, in the next sentence, using a phrase that makes him sound like English is his fourth language. What is “a record clean”? Then he leans on an old standby by bringing up other countries, blaming them for dirty air and polluted water. For a self-professed nonbeliever in the most serious climate change projections, he sure seems to think the environment is a mess.
Trump’s meandering monologue follows an attempt earlier in the day by Sarah Sanders to discredit the report. At a White House briefing, Sanders bashed it as “extreme” and “not based on facts.”
“We’d like to see something that’s more data-driven,” she said. She also dismissed the report’s findings as the “most extreme” scenario, something co-author Katharine Hayhoe took issue with on Twitter.
The comments from both Trump and Sanders come after an obvious attempt by the Trump administration to bury the report by releasing it on Black Friday. Asked Monday why it was put out at a time when many people wouldn’t hear about it, Trump simply said, “I don’t believe it.”