Why won't the White House tell us what Trump thinks of climate change

Conway said on 'GMA' that the president believes in a "clean environment."

ByABC News
June 2, 2017, 3:28 PM

— -- Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, declined to say on "Good Morning America” today whether Trump believes global warming is a hoax when pressed by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.

"The president believes in a clean environment, clean air, clean water," Conway said the day after President Trump said he is withdrawing the United States from the multination Paris Climate Agreement.

"He’s received awards as a businessman in that regard. He made very clear yesterday what he doesn’t believe which is that the U.S. government should stay in an agreement that gives us too much of the financial burden."

Conway added that the president believes in negotiating better deals for the country and that there needs to be a balance between environmental protection and economic growth.

When asked about Trump's plan to renegotiate the Paris accord, Conway explained that the president's first responsibility is to "Americans, their interests, their jobs and economic growth here."

"Why should we front-load so much of the economic burden in this agreement to the detriment of the American worker," Conway said. "All the projections say that we would have a decline in some of the key sectors where men and women in this country rely upon for their livelihood: cement, paper, natural gas, coal. Why are we doing that and yet letting India and China get off scot-free?"

Neither press secretary Sean Spicer nor Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt answered directly at today's briefing when asked if Trump thinks climate change is a hoax.

"It's interesting all the discussions that we've had over the last several weeks have been focused on one singular issue -- Is Paris good or not for this country?" Pruitt said.

Spicer said he still does not know the president's position on climate change, a question he was also asked and did not have an answer for during Tuesday's press briefing.

"I have not had an opportunity to have that discussion," Spicer said today.

On Thursday, politicians, business leaders and environmental organizations reacted to Trump's announcement that the U.S. will no longer participate in the Paris Agreement, but will begin negotiations to possibly re-enter the accord or work on a new one with terms that the president believes are more fair to the United States.

Hillary Clinton tweeted that Trump's decision is a "historic mistake," while the Republican House speaker, Paul Ryan, commended the president, saying, "The Paris climate agreement was simply a raw deal for America."

"Signed by President Obama without Senate ratification, it would have driven up the cost of energy, hitting middle-class and low-income Americans the hardest. In order to unleash the power of the American economy, our government must encourage production of American energy. I commend President Trump for fulfilling his commitment to the American people and withdrawing from this bad deal," Ryan said.

Former President Obama said in a statement that the accord was "the first-ever global agreement to set the world on a low-carbon course and protect the world we leave to our children."

Obama said that "even in the absence of American leadership," he has confidence "that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got."

PHOTO: Kellyanne Conway appears on "Good Morning America," June 2, 2017.
Kellyanne Conway appears on "Good Morning America," June 2, 2017.

Conway on Friday on "GMA" also spoke about former FBI Director James Comey's scheduled testimony next week before the Senate Intelligence Committee which is investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and its possible ties to any Trump associates. The Senate panel’s main interest in Comey concerns the nature of his encounters with the president and whether the FBI chief took contemporaneous notes of their meetings.

"Well, we’ll be watching with the rest of the world when Director Comey testifies," Conway said. "The last time he testified under oath, the FBI had to scurry to correct that testimony. He was off by hundreds of thousands in his count -- his sworn testimony count -- of the number of emails that Huma Abedin allegedly sent to her husband, Anthony Weiner."

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