Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

"We’re in deep, deep trouble."(Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

"We’re in deep, deep trouble." (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Trump's Climate Crimes Are His Most Impeachable Offenses

The climate crisis imperils the planet. To deny it is impeachable, the highest of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Amy GoodmanDenis Moynihan

You can run from the climate crisis, but you can’t hide. On the front lines of this global environmental calamity, entire communities are being consumed by fire, submerged by typhoons and hurricanes, or baked under the sun amid historic droughts. President Donald Trump, the climate change denier in chief, has formally begun the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. Originally signed by President Barack Obama in 2015, the accord established a cooperative, global path to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees F) above preindustrial levels. The United States is now the only nation on the planet that has pulled out of the agreement. A new statement signed by over 11,000 scientists from over 150 countries warns of “untold suffering” unless global society undergoes a “major transformation.” Trump’s denial of the climate crisis is unconscionable and should be added to the articles of impeachment against him.

One Trump official with a role in both the climate crisis and in the impeachment proceedings is Wells Griffith, currently a special assistant to the president and senior director for international energy and environment for the National Security Council, serving under departing Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Griffith is a longtime Republican operative who served as deputy chief of staff to Reince Priebus when Priebus was chair of the Republican National Committee.

Wells Griffith’s appointment to the Department of Energy makes sense; his family has run a gas station in Mobile, Alabama, for over 50 years. Griffith moved from pumping gas to pushing coal, successfully negotiating the sale of 700,000 metric tons of coal from Pennsylvania to Ukraine in 2017.

He then showed up as the top representative of the Trump administration at the U.N.’s "COP 24" climate conference in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018. The U.S. held just one public event during the two-week summit, which Griffith chaired, promoting fossil fuel and nuclear energy. Amid mocking laughter and a walkout by protesters, he stated, "We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability."

Afterward, we approached Griffith in a large central hall of the convention center (which was designed to look like the coal mine that it was built on top of) to ask questions for the “Democracy Now!” news hour. To our shock, rather than answering, he bolted, first walking quickly, then running away. Cameras rolling, we ran after him, asking questions as we weaved in and out of the crowd of climate negotiators, scientists and activists.

“Do you agree with President Trump calling climate change a hoax? Can you talk about why the U.S. is here, since President Trump is saying he’s pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord? Can you talk about why you’re pushing coal?” He dodged our questions, but did accuse us of harassing him. “A reporter asking you a question, sir, is not harassment,” we replied.

Just this Tuesday, Wells Griffith continued his refusal to answer questions when he failed to appear before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s closed-door session of the Trump impeachment inquiry.

While public testimony is expected to begin next week, an unrelated court case is wrapping up in a New York state courtroom. New York is suing ExxonMobil, alleging the fossil fuel giant defrauded its investors for years by understating the risk that climate change posed to shareholder value. Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil and Trump’s first secretary of state, testified at length under oath. He repeatedly claimed he could not recall details when grilled by the New York state attorneys.

Outside the courtroom, 30 children participating in the Fridays for Future weekly climate strike engaged in a die-in. Thirteen-year-old Maria Riker told us, “We held the die-in for 42 minutes, one minute for each of the 42 years that Exxon was aware of the dangers of climate change but lied about it.”

Tillerson’s successor, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, announced Monday, via tweet, “Today we begin the formal process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.” Trump declared that the U.S. would withdraw in June 2017, but legal procedures in place when the agreement was signed have prevented the formal exit until now.

In response, 350.org founder and author Bill McKibben said on "Democracy Now!," "The fossil fuel industry had its most profitable years in the last three decades. On the other hand, we’re now missing half the sea ice in the summer Arctic. The Great Barrier Reef is half-dead. The oceans are 30% more acidic. California is on fire more weeks than not. We’re in deep, deep trouble."

The climate crisis imperils the planet. To deny it is impeachable, the highest of high crimes and misdemeanors.


© 2019 Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 1,400 public television and radio stations worldwide.

Denis Moynihan

Denis Moynihan

Denis Moynihan has worked with Democracy Now! since 2000. He is a bestselling author and a syndicated columnist with King Features. He lives in Colorado, where he founded community radio station KFFR 88.3 FM in the town of Winter Park.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo