Emails Show Fallout After 'Crazy' Trump Claim

NOAA scientists reacted to Trump saying that Hurricane Dorian would hit Alabama
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 1, 2020 3:30 PM CST
Emails Show Fallout After 'Crazy' Trump Claim
In this Sept. 4, 2019 file photo, President Donald Trump holds a chart as he talks with reporters after receiving a briefing on Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A flurry of newly released emails from scientists and top officials at the federal agency responsible for weather forecasting clearly illustrates the consternation and outright alarm caused by President Donald Trump’s false claim that Hurricane Dorian could hit Alabama, the AP reports. A top National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration official even called the president's behavior "crazy." What the scientists and officials found even more troubling was a statement later issued by an unnamed NOAA spokesman that supported Trump’s claim and repudiated the agency’s own forecasters. "What's next? Climate science is a hoax?" Craig McLean, NOAA’s acting chief scientist, wrote in an email sent to the agency’s top officials. "Flabbergasted to leave our forecasters hanging in the political wind."

In a more formal letter, McLean wrote that what concerned him most was that the Trump administration "is eroding the public trust in NOAA for an apparent political recovery from an ill timed and imprecise comment from the President." As Dorian headed for the southeastern US in early September, Trump tweeted that Alabama was "most likely to be hit (much) harder than anticipated." Officials corrected him, but Trump remained adamant. It provoked angry emails from within the agency and from the public. One NOAA scientist wrote to the agency's acting administrator asking for reassurance "that we are not mere pawns in an absurd game"—and was told in response, "You have no idea how hard I'm fighting to keep politics out of science."

(More science stories.)

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