National security adviser H.R. McMaster denied Sunday that President Donald Trump is reconsidering his decision to pull out of the Paris climate change accord but said the door remains open to a better agreement down the road.
“That’s a false report,” McMaster said of published reports over the weekend that the administration might not pull out of the deal after all and might seek new terms instead.
“The president decided to pull out of the Paris accord because it’s a bad deal for the American people and it’s a bad deal for the environment,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”
The Wall Street Journal and Agence France-Presse had cited a top European climate official as saying that the United States was seeking ways to remain a party to the deal. The White House denied those reports in a statement Saturday, and McMaster underscored the U.S. position Sunday.
“The president’s ears are open if, at some point, they decide they can come forward with an agreement that addresses the president’s very legitimate concerns with Paris,” McMaster said.
Trump had announced in June that the United States would begin a three-year process of withdrawal. He said then that he could revisit the decision if the United States could renegotiate terms he sees as unfair.
The U.S. withdrawal was seen as a policy victory for then-adviser Stephen Bannon and his deep suspicion of international agreements and obligations. McMaster’s disagreements with Bannon over matters of policy, access to Trump and other issues are well known, and McMaster acted to reduce Bannon’s role. Last month, Trump dismissed Bannon in a White House shake-up.
Fox host Chris Wallace noted during the interview the bad blood that had existed between McMaster and Bannon and asked McMaster whether the Trump administration is better off without Bannon.
McMaster answered carefully.
“The administration is better off when we can serve the president by integrating and coordinating across all of our departments and agencies with our key allies and partners and to present the president with multiple options and then, based on his decisions, to help the president implement these policies that prioritize protecting and advancing the interests of the American people,” McMaster began.
“And so what’s important is to have an inclusive process, not to try to manipulate into a particular decision or to advance your own agenda.”
Pressed on whether Bannon was guilty of such manipulation or ulterior motives, McMaster denied that there was a feud between the two men and repeated his goal of open discussion of competing viewpoints.
“There were some who tried to operate outside that process for their own narrow agendas, and that did not serve the president well.”