Trump Meets With California Governor for Briefing on Wildfires

September 14, 2020 Updated: September 14, 2020

President Donald Trump met with California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other officials on Sept. 14 to receive a briefing on the wildfires raging in the state.

The president later addressed the California National Guard before departing for a roundtable with supporters in Arizona.

Newsom, a Democrat, said it was good to have the president and members of his administration back in California.

“We’ve got fires all the way at the border of Oregon all the way down to the border with Mexico. 2.8 million acres just in the last 30 days have burned,” the governor said.

Trump thanked Newsom, saying the White House and the governor have had “great coordination, great relationship.”

Lightning strikes started the wildfires across northern California on Aug. 15, according to state officials.

As of Monday, nearly 16,500 firefighters were battling 28 major wildfires.

The governor later said a changing climate is contributing to the number of fires.

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Wade Crowfoot, second from right, secretary of California’s Natural Resources Agency, and other state and federal officials during a briefing with President Donald Trump at Sacramento McClellan Airport in McClellan Park, Calif., on Sept. 14, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
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Mill Creek Hotshots set a backfire to protect homes during the Bobcat Fire in Arcadia, Calif., on Sept. 13, 2020. (David McNew/Getty Images)

“We feel very strongly that the hots are getting hotter, the dries are getting dryer,” he said.

“Something’s happened to the plumbing of the world and we come from a perspective, humbly, where we submit the science is in, and observed evidence is self-evident that climate change is real and that is exacerbating this. … Please respect the difference of opinion out here as it relates to this fundamental issue on the issue of climate change,” Newsom told Trump, who responded: “absolutely.”

Wade Crowfoot, secretary of California’s Natural Resources Agency, told Trump that the state has seen record-breaking temperatures this year.

“We want to work with you to really recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forest, and actually work together with that science. That science is going to be key. Because if we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it’s all about vegetation management, we’re not going to succeed together protecting Californians.”

Trump told Crowfoot that temperatures will start getting cooler. “I wish science agreed with you,” Crowfoot responded. “I don’t think science knows, actually,” Trump replied.

Newsom and Crowfoot acknowledged that the state could improve its forest management, a point that Trump has hammered in recent days.

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President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing on wildfires in McClellan Park, Calif., on Sept. 14, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
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President Donald Trump poses with pilots and crew members of the California Army National Guard and their families at Sacramento McClellan Airport in McClellan Park, Calif., on Sept. 14, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

“We have not done justice on our forest management,” the governor said. But he also said most land in the state is federally owned, so the federal government also has a responsibility for better forest management.

Trump told reporters after landing in California that “there has to be good, strong forest management.”

After leaving the meeting, the president delivered remarks recognizing the role the state National Guard has done in fighting the fires, awarding seven soldiers with the Distinguished Flying Cross for rescuing people.

“It’s such an honor to be in your presence,” Trump told the guardsmen.

The men were part of a mission on Sept. 5 that took them into flames and smoke to rescue families trapped at the Mammoth Pool Campground.

Officials told the men the mission was too dangerous but they decided to persevere and successfully completed what they set out to do.

Two hundred and forty-two people were saved from the Creek Fire over three flights.

“To each of you, your unyielding and undying determination lifts our nation,” Trump said. “You’re what makes our nation great, and we thank you very much.”

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