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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Cabinet Communicators!

Kevin Bogardus at E&E News:
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos last year praised President Trump's decision to pull the United States from the Paris climate accord.

Her staff later told her what she had said about it.

DeVos' chief of staff approved the secretary's two-sentence statement on Trump's exit from the climate change agreement, with her espousing the president's rollback of "overreaching regulatory actions" and keeping his promise "to put America and American workers first." Aides later worked to bring it to DeVos' attention, according to emails obtained by E&E News under the Freedom of Information Act.

The emails offer a behind-the-scenes look at how the White House ordered agency leaders to publicly praise Trump's announcement on Paris, which was a year ago today. Cabinet secretaries and their communications shops jumped into action, with messages ranging from DeVos' vague praise of putting "America first" to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross decrying the "economic carnage" of the climate treaty.

DeVos was one of several Trump Cabinet officials to issue statements on the president's Paris decision. At least nine officials, including many not heavily involved in the move to withdraw from the agreement, released statements that day (Greenwire, June 2).

The public relations push came after a request from the White House, according to other records obtained by E&E News under FOIA.

"Cabinet Communicators!" Kaelan Dorr, then an aide in the White House press office, said in an email a little over two hours before Trump announced his decision.

"Please join our surrogate briefing call at the below number at 1:30pm. We need all Cabinet agencies to prep statements of support for the decision being announced at 3:00pm in the Rose Garden," he said, asking those statements be sent to him and other White House press aides for approval within 30 minutes of the call's conclusion.

"No exceptions," Dorr said, adding that talking points would also be distributed after the call.