Trump will visit bushfire-hit California

12 September 2020

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USA – President Trump will visit California on Monday to meet with emergency officials about the wildfires that are ravaging the state, the White House announced Saturday.

The president will be briefed on the fires in McClellan Park in Sacramento County, White House spokesman Judd Deere said in an emailed statement.

“Since mid-August, President Trump and Governor Newsom have spoken by phone and the White House and FEMA have remained in constant contact with State and local officials throughout the response to these natural disasters,” Deere said.

“The President continues to support those who are battling raging wildfires in a locally-executed, state-managed, and federally-supported emergency response.”


Thick smoke from multiple forest fires shrouds iconic El Capitan, right, and the granite walls of Yosemite Valley Saturday.  (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that he talked on the phone with the president for nearly 30 minutes the day before about the state’s fires, emergency declarations and federal wildfire aid. The governor credited Trump for being “proactive” in his efforts to provide assistance to the state.

Newsom also insisted that California will do more to fight climate change and took the Trump administration to task for its policies that reduce environmental protections.

Trump’s visit comes nearly a month after the former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security claimed in a political ad that Trump tried to withhold disaster relief money for California’s wildfires because voters in the state opposed him politically.

“He told us to stop giving money to people whose houses had burned down from a wildfire because he was so rageful that people in the state of California didn’t support him and that politically it wasn’t a base for him,” Miles Taylor, who left the Trump administration in 2019, says in the ad.

The Department of Homeland Security oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Taylor doesn’t say which wildfires he is referring to, but the group running the ad confirmed it was the Camp fire of 2018, and Trump toured the devastation in Paradise that year.

Trump had drawn criticism last week for not acknowledging the massive fires engulfing millions of acres and forcing evacuations across three western states until a tweet Friday night expressing support for the firefighters battling them.

On Thursday, with half a million Oregon residents having fled their homes, the state’s Democratic Governor, Kate Brown, said she hadn’t been able to reach the president by phone.

The visit to inspect fire damage in California Monday will come at the end of a weekend campaign swing across Nevada and Arizona, holding outdoor rallies in defiance of state officials in Nevada who blocked his initial plans to hold rallies at airports in Reno and Las Vegas.

Adding the official stop to inspect fire damage also enables the president’s campaign to avoid having to reimburse the White House for the cost of the entire trip.

Times staff writers Noah Bierman and Taryn Luna contributed to this report.

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