Meet the Team of Racists and Climate Deniers Shaping Donald Trump’s America

by Charlie Spatz

November 22, 2016

In the two weeks since the election, Donald Trump has turned to white supremacists and fossil fuel barons to lead his new administration.

Donald Trump

Photo by Gage Skidmore / Flickr.

From top advisers on his transition team to early picks for Cabinet-level positions, Donald Trump is already surrounding himself with toxic, fringe ideas antithetical to the foundations of our democracy.

The road towards a just, green, and peaceful future just got steeper — and we need you on our side. Here’s what we’re up against.

1. White supremacists, climate deniers, and corporate lobbyists form Trump’s transition team.

In the days following Trump’s victory, an inner circle of Trump confidants formed his transition team — a select handful of influencers tasked with appointing nearly 4,000 new government employees, including Cabinet positions.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence replaced New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as the leader of the transition team shortly after the election. Joining Pence are fellow hard-line conservatives from the House of Representatives as well as a few lesser-known individuals. Sources point to Rebekah Mercer, daughter of hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer, as one of the key figures. The Mercers are prolific funders of Koch-allied groups and climate deniers.

Her influence helps explain the inclusion of Breitbart “News” (scare quotes intended) founder and white nationalist Steve Bannon and climate denier Myron Ebell on the transition team.

2. Trump’s Cabinet picks oppose civil rights and climate action.

Trump has only made a few Cabinet appointments so far, but his initial picks have a few disturbing traits in common.

Attorney General: Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama)

Sessions was re-elected to the Senate representing Alabama in 2012 after being heavily funded by the Koch brothers. The Senate denied him a position as a federal judge in 1986 for multiple racist comments, yet somehow Trump sees him fit to lead the U.S. Department of Justice in 2016.

Sessions has called the NAACP and ACLU “un-American,” said he was “offended” that 98 percent of scientists agree on the science of climate change, and was an early supporter of Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration.

CIA Director: Representative Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas)

Climate change presents a major threat to national security, but don’t tell that to Trump’s pick for CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Another Koch-funded candidate elected to the House in 2010, he denies the scientific consensus on climate change called the Paris Climate Agreement — which Trump has pledged to “cancel” — a “radical environmental agenda.”

Oh, and he’s into “realistic approaches” to national security like torture.

The rest.

Additional appointees include Reince Priebus — current Republican National Chairman and the man who claimed that “people just don’t care” about Trump’s rampant misogyny — as Chief of Staff, and retired General Michael Flynn — who just called Islam a “vicious cancer” — as National Security Advisor.

Both have belittled and chided the Obama administration for taking action on climate change.

3. Oil executives and fossil fuel lobbyists are set to shape Trump’s climate and energy policy.

We’ve yet to get official word on appointments for several posts that will determine Trump’s future environmental policy, but what we do know paints a bleak picture. These include administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and secretaries of the Interior, Energy, Transportation, and State departments.

Myron Ebell, perhaps the most outspoken climate denialist in the country, could find himself at the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency. Sarah “drill baby, drill” Palin and Wyoming Representative Cynthia Lummis are rumored to be considered for Secretary of the Interior. Oil tycoons Harold Hamm and Forrest Lucas are also suggested as possible picks for Department of Energy.

These are the folks who will decide whether we drill, mine, and frack for more fossil fuels. They’ll decide the fate of fuel efficiency standards, public transportation, renewable energy research, and international climate agreements — and Trump looks poised to pick a climate denier for each position.

4. Financial conflicts of interest could drive Trump’s policy decisions.

Trump said today that the president “can’t have a conflict of interest.” Legally speaking, he is dead wrong.

Trump’s list of potential conflicts of interest includes millions in loans from foreign banks, some of which are being prosecuted by the Department of Justice, and millions invested in fossil fuel companies with ties to projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline. Ivanka Trump, who Donald indicated would run the family’s business during his presidency “independent” of the family, has already held meetings with foreign businessmen with multiple family members present, including Donald.

And that just scratches the surface. Because Trump never released his tax returns, it’s impossible to know all the ways he and his advisers stand to personally profit from decisions he makes as president.  

Ready to stand up and fight back? So are we.

In the two months left before he takes office, we need to send a clear message to President-elect Trump: we will not sit by and let your racism, bigotry, and climate denial become the new normal in our country.

Together with allies, we’re building a movement strong enough to stand up to Trump’s hateful and divided vision of America and fight for the green and peaceful future we deserve. Will you join us? Sign up today to connect with volunteers and organizers near you.

By Charlie Spatz

Charlie Spatz is a regional organizer with Greenpeace USA's grassroots organizing team.

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