(CBS) President Trump left Washington, D.C., Saturday morning for California after the death toll from California’s Camp Fire climbed to 71 and the number of people unaccounted for jumped to more than 1,000. Mr. Trump is set to visit Northern California, where the destructive Camp Fire is raging.
Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, both Democrats, have welcomed Mr. Trump’s visit, declaring it’s time “to pull together for the people of California.” They will join Mr. Trump on his visit, according to the governor’s office, although details of Mr. Trump’s itinerary were not released as of Saturday morning.
Earlier this week, Mr. Trump threatened to cut off federal payments to California in a post on Twitter.
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!” Mr. Trump tweeted. He later approved a federal disaster declaration.
He also criticized forest management in an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” saying that while climate change “maybe contributes a bit,” the “big problem we have is management.”
Mr. Trump reiterated those claims as he spoke to reporters on the White House lawn Saturday morning before departing for California. “We will be talking about forest management. I’ve been saying that for a long time. And it could have been a lot different situation,” Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trump tweeted about his visit shortly before arriving on Saturday. He mentioned that he would be touring the state with House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and Republican Reps. Doug LaMalfa and Ken Calvert.
“Heading to California with @GOPLeader Kevin McCarthy, @RepLaMalfa, and @KenCalvert. Look forward to being with our brave Firefighters, First Responders and @FEMA, along with the many brave People of California. We are with you all the way – God Bless you all!” Mr. Trump wrote.
The president incorrectly suggested that forest management in the state was largely controlled by the state’s government, when it’s the federal government that owns more than 60 percent of the land in the state.
According to Climate Nexus, climate change amplifies the threat of wildfires by creating ideal settings for them to burn. Climate change is affecting conditions in both our summers and winters in ways that contribute to wildfires.