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Does President Trump still believe climate change is a hoax? Sean Spicer: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The White House spokesperson didn’t give a straight answer.

Photo by Pacific Press/Contributor/Getty Images

The day that President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing his Cabinet to start dismantling President Barack Obama’s climate actions, White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked if Trump still believes climate change is a hoax.

Spicer didn’t really answer the question, asked by ABC News’s Cecilia Vega. But he insisted that the president cares about taking steps to “preserve and protect our environment” — even though Trump’s executive order would do exactly the opposite.

“I think [President Trump] understands — he does not believe, as I mentioned at the outset, that there is a binary choice between job creation, economic growth, and caring about the environment, and that’s what we should be focusing on,” Spicer said. “I think at the end of the day, where we should be focusing on is making sure that all Americans have clean water, clean air, and that we do what we can to preserve and protect our environment.”

In November 2012, Trump tweeted his now-infamous (and always-bogus) claim that the concept of global warming was invented by the Chinese. Between 2013 and 2014, Trump referred to global warming as a hoax on Twitter five more times, using the fact that it was cold outside as evidence. (This is not how global warming works.)

Trump’s tweets drastically lowered the bar for his Cabinet nominees on climate change. When Scott Pruitt, Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, broke with the president and said he did believe in climate change during his Senate confirmation hearing, it was “breaking news.” But as Vox’s Brad Plumer explained, that’s kind of a ridiculous question to ask someone who wants to head an agency charged with protecting the environment.

“It’d be like asking a future secretary of health and human services if they believed in the germ theory of disease,” Plumer wrote. “Encouraging if they do, but not the sort of thing that should receive a standing ovation.”

Further reading:

Brad Plumer asked legal experts how Trump could kill Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Here’s what they said.

What Scott Pruitt means for the future of the EPA

How Donald Trump’s promises to bring back coal jobs are impossible to keep