Trump: I'm keeping an open mind on maintaining the Paris climate change accord

This comes out of the same canceled-then-rescheduled meeting with the New York Times editorial board that Reince Priebus allegedly tried to sabotage this morning. Reince, it seems, had it in his head that hard questions from Times reporters might lead to problematic answers on the record.

Three people with knowledge of Mr. Trump’s initial decision to cancel the meeting said that Reince Priebus, the incoming White House chief of staff, had been among those urging the president-elect to cancel it, because he would face questions he might not be prepared to answer. It was Mr. Priebus who relayed to Mr. Trump, erroneously, that The Times had changed the conditions of the meeting, believing it would result in a cancellation, these people said.

Was Reince right to worry? Here’s what happened during the climate-change part of the Q&A, according to Times reporter Michael Grynbaum. (A full transcript will be available later, I’m sure, but for the moment this will have to do.)

“I think there is some connectivity”? This is the same guy who tweeted this four years ago:

In May of this year, shortly after he became the presumptive GOP nominee, he promised to withdraw from the Paris accord, a pledge that made workers in fossil-fuel industries understandably happy. Now he’s rethinking. What gives?

It could be that he’s just being prudential. There’s no sense binding himself to a position on a major issue, campaign promise or no, before he’s been fully briefed and his cabinet’s debated it. Same goes for the Iran nuclear deal, which he’s also promised to abandon in the past but has been coy about lately. He’s going to take his time before committing to a major unilateral move, particularly one that’ll anger American allies. Another possibility: The guy loves good press and enjoys pleasing his audience, and he knows what an audience of New York Times editors wants to hear about climate change. He couldn’t resist pandering to them. Put him back in front of an arena of 10,000 screaming fans and he’ll say something different. A third possibility is that Barack Obama’s been chatting with him about this and getting him to reconsider. An intriguing tidbit from the Times’s account of today’s interview:

Mr. Trump reiterated that he had a good meeting at the White House with President Obama after the election. He noted that the president had discussed with him a series of problems in the world, including one particularly challenging one that Mr. Trump refused to disclose.

Could that “particularly challenging” problem have been climate change? That’s how the left usually describes it — the crisis of our age, staggering in its complexity and the collective-action problems it presents. And it makes sense that Trump wouldn’t want his conservative fan base to know that he and O have been discussing it. And then, of course, there’s the possibility that Trump’s own views of climate change are more conflicted than his “tear up the Paris accord” boasting on the trail suggested. (Does Trump have views on any subject that aren’t conflicted?) WaPo notes that he hasn’t always flatly denied a relationship between human activity and global warming, and he signed a letter in 2009 calling for renewed effort to build a “clean-energy economy.”

A more interesting question may be how many of Trump’s closest advisors believe global warming is a major problem. Rudy Giuliani, who’s in line to be his top diplomat and would be a point man on renegotiating the Paris accord, said during his own presidential run in 2007 that he thinks human beings are contributing to climate change. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner seem every inch the rich, urban, socially-conscious socialites who’d regard global warming as an important issue. But many other Trump advisors, starting with Mike Pence, are skeptics. As a matter of basic retail politics, climate change is enough of a “leftist” issue that Trump would inevitably lose some political capital on the right if he stuck with Obama’s accord, and it would increase pressure on him to break with Obama’s policies in other diplomatic matters like the Iran deal. He’s going to have to pick his spots in betraying his base. Especially when energy-sector jobs are at stake.

I didn’t hear Rush’s show today but I did notice this on Twitter. If anyone has the audio of him talking about Trump on climate change, send it along and I’ll post.