WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate deal followed an internal debate that pitted anti-globalist advisers like Steve Bannon against more moderate voices such as Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and top economic adviser, Gary Cohn.
In the end, Trump stuck to a promise that he had made on the campaign trail last year aimed at helping blue-collar workers who he feels are under siege in a changing U.S. economy.
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Pars,” he said on Thursday in making his announcement.
But Trump’s intentions concerning the Paris accord were unclear even to some of his aides until the last day or so, since he has shown flexibility on some campaign promises and had gotten an earful about the need to stay in the agreement from key allies at a Group of Seven summit last week in Sicily.
At the White House, the behind-the-scenes debate about whether to stay in Paris or bolt was an intense one that dragged on for weeks.
Ivanka Trump, whose husband, Jared Kushner, is a senior White House adviser, had been quietly urging her father to keep the United States in the Paris agreement, and had sought to ensure her father heard all sides in the debate, an official said.
Cohn last week suggested Trump might be softening on his outright hostility towards the accord, telling reporters the president’s position was “evolving” based on input from world leaders who wanted the United States to remain in the agreement.
Kushner, on the other hand, came around to the view that the standards set out in the agreement did not work for the U.S. economy, a senior administration official said. The official said the question for Kushner was whether to try to change those standards within the agreement or pull out.
Consistently in favour of pulling out were Bannon and Trump speechwriter Stephen Miller, who was involved in writing Trump’s Paris remarks, and Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Both Bannon and Miller are seen as key architects of Trump’s “America First” agenda, which is aimed at ensuring U.S. interests are taken into account over a globalist view.
Although there had been some discussion of keeping the United States in the Paris accord, while changing its carbon emissions commitments, as a way of maintaining global unity, in the end, Trump decided to cut the cord entirely.
“I think the president’s legal team felt very strongly that it was best, that the cleanest way to address it was to just get out,” a senior administration official told reporters.
Additional reporting by Jeff Mason, Ayesha Rascoe and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Bill Trott