Trump’s decision came after weeks of intense lobbying from both sides of the Paris accord debate. Corporations, environmentalists and Democrats urged Trump to stick with the deal, while Republicans and conservative groups pushed for withdrawal.
More intense was the debate within the White House itself. Key staffers were lined on both sides of the issue, making Trump’s decision to withdraw a lengthier process than many anticipated.
While the decision was ultimately Trump’s to make, there were many people working behind the scenes and in public to make sure the president kept his campaign promise to “cancel” the climate accord.
Conservative groups, White House officials and Republican lawmakers worked behind the scenes and in the media as part of the “resistance” movement to the Paris accord, which the Obama administration joined in 2016.
They worked to nudge Trump in the direction of withdrawing from Paris, constantly reminding him of the legal risks to not fulfilling his promise to supporters. …
Legal risk of not withdrawing?
During two closed-door meetings in late April and early May, [General counsel Donald McGahn] raised concerns with Trump about the legal risks of staying party to the Paris agreement, Politico reported. McGahn warned the U.S. may not be able to adjust its pledge to cut emissions and that environmentalists could use the Paris agreement to undermine Trump’s deregulatory agenda.
McGahn’s interjection “shocked” Department of State lawyers who largely made the case for staying in the Paris agreement, according to Politico. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson publicly came out in favor of the Paris agreement during his confirmation hearing in January.
Cantanzaro, McGahn and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon led the administration faction opposed to the Paris agreement. They ended up butting heads with pro-Paris advisers Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Gary Cohn. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Energy Secretary Rick Perry also favored staying in the Paris accord.
Who gets the credit?
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) … was “the energy” and “enabled the issue to stay high profile in the White House for months,” an administration source told Axios.
In May, CEI launched an online petition and ad campaign to remind Trump of his campaign promise to withdraw from the Paris accord, and AEA circulated another petition calling for Trump to withdraw from the agreement.
CEI senior fellows Chris Horner and Marlo Lewis published a report detailing the legal risks of remaining in the accord. CEI’s Myron Ebell, who headed Trump’s EPA transition team, was also public about his opposition to the Paris agreement.