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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) — President Donald Trump said withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord is a good move for the United States and hoped to leave the door open for future negotiation.

He called the agreement a “massive redistribution of U.S. wealth to other countries” that “hamstrings” the U.S. and “empowers” others.

“The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States,” he said from the White House rose garden as he announced his decision to withdraw from the agreement, an accord that asks for voluntary benchmarks to be met without the threat of penalty.

But what about climate change? Does President Trump still believe it to be a hoax, like he claimed years ago?

White House officials, peppered by reporters, have danced around that question.

“I have not had the chance to ask the president that question,” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Friday.

The decision a day earlier to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord has drawn sharp criticism from corporate leaders, including Disney Chairman Robert Iger and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who both resigned from the president’s Business Advisory Council following the U.S. exit.

In 2015, President Obama helped broker the climate deal with nearly 200 countries.

“Even in the absence of American leadership, even as this administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future, I’m confident that our states, cities and businesses will step up,” Obama said in a statement released by his office.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who signed the accord last year, also added his criticism, calling the decision “self-destructive.”

“What Donald Trump is doing is serving the polluters and serving a narrow group of ideological interests,” Kerry said. “That’s not leadership. That’s abdication of responsibility and this step does not make America first. It makes America last.”

President Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway rejected Kerry’s denouncement.

“Once a politician, always a politician,” she said. “I think it’s a very disappointing assessment. And it tells you why he lost when he ran for president.”

At Friday’s White House press briefing, Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, backed up the president, as well.

“The President made a very courageous decision yesterday on behalf of America,” he said. “He put America’s interests first, with respect to environmental agreements and international discussions.”

Thursday night, hours after the announcement, several buildings around the country, including One World Trade Center in New York City and Boston’s City Hall, lit up in green in protest.


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