Real options for a fake climate treaty

**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**

On the roster: Real options for a fake climate treaty - I’ll Tell You What: You do you, boo boo - Comey set to testify - Dems fume as Hillary casts blame on party - When catfish are outlawed, only outlaws will have catfish

First, let’s be clear about what the Paris Accord is and what it isn’t.

Despite the intense protestations of the environmental community, it is not a credible answer to what green activists say is an imminent threat to humanity and the planet.

But neither is it what its staunchest foes say: A death knell for American industry and a cruel punishment to American consumers.

A better way to think of the deal is as the international equivalent of a “blue-ribbon commission” from the U.S. government. It is a framework for more talking and more doing in the future. But mostly, it is a way to take the, ahem, heat off for a while.

Proponents of continued American membership point out with great indignation that if President Trump withdraws from the deal, our country will join pariah states Syria and Nicaragua.

Think about that for a minute, though. What kind of deal could get the backing of every other country in the world, including Russia, China, India, Brazil and other aspiring polluters? A fake one.

One of the reasons conservatives oppose the accord is more for its world-government gobbledygook than any specific requirements on carbon emissions. They would see rejecting this framework in the same way they continue to reject the International Criminal Court: More about sovereignty than policy.

The dead giveaway on all this is the fact that proponents of remaining in the deal enthusiastically point out that we don’t have to abide by our promises in order to remain at the table. Well, gee sounds like a great club.

Trump has a range of options.

He could withdraw the United States from the underlying UN agreement, rupture the entire framework and pull the country out today.  Alternately, he could acknowledge the underlying agreement and start a three-year process of withdrawal. Call it “climate Brexit.”

In the same spirit, Trump could declare that he would do what his predecessor refused and submit the deal to the Senate as a binding treaty. This would have the advantage in Republicans’ eyes of almost certainly starting the process of U.S. withdrawal but doing so in a way that respects separation of powers and provides what would no doubt be a gratifying thumb in the eye of Barack Obama.

History suggests what such a course might look like for Trump.

In 1997, then-President Bill Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol negotiated by his Vice President, Al Gore. Clinton submitted the agreement to the Senate as a binding treaty, which promptly tossed the thing out on its ear. Clinton kept America as a voluntary participant but, when Gore lost the 2000 election to George W. Bush, the former Texas oilman promptly withdrew after taking office.

Obama, stung by his failure to produce a deal at Copenhagen in 2009 and aware of Clinton’s climate loss, would later choose not to seek a binding deal on Paris and instead took the easy but impermanent way out via executive action. If Trump brings the Senate into the play now, he would certainly be standing on precedent.

Conversely, Trump could simply say we’re not changing anything. That seems highly unlikely at this point, especially given the cliffhanger suspense Trump has sought to build around his decision. Plus, it would be an out-and-out repudiation of a campaign promise.

But, there are ways for Trump to stay in the agreement but still save political face, as several of his top advisors and American business leaders hope he will do. The president could announce what is essentially a renegotiation, as he has done with his onetime effort to withdraw from NAFTA. This might include announcing that the U.S. will no longer pay into a fund aimed at helping poorer countries comply or an announcement that America was revising downward its pledge for carbon reductions.

Remember, even if the government were to reverse course and keep Obama’s carbon regulations on the books, the U.S. would still fall dramatically short of the prior president’s ambitious pledge. It would cost Trump little in the eyes of supporters of the pact to simply say that we were going to keep it real on reduction estimates.

Given the anxiety bordering on hysteria that has met the potential U.S. withdrawal, anything that sounds like staying would be welcomed news for U.S. allies and the business community.

“America has already formed treaties with no less than six foreign nations, and all of them, except Prussia, are maritime, and therefore able to annoy and injure us.” – John Jay, Federalist No. 3

The Telegraph: “NASA will fly a spacecraft directly into the Sun in a bid to unlock the secrets of solar storms that plays havoc with satellites and power supplies, the agency has announced. The unmanned probe will travel to within four million miles of the star’s surface, inside its Corona, or outer layer, and will have to withstand temperatures of almost 1,400 degrees. Set to launch next year, the Parker Solar Probe promises to ‘revolutionize’ mankind’s understanding of the Sun and the origins of physics, scientists said last night, as well as helping protect equipment from solar radiation. It will travel more than seven times closer to the surface than any previous flight during a seven-year mission comprising 24 orbits. The craft will reach its destination via a tortuous series of maneuvers, using the gravity of Venus to slow to a ‘controlled’ half a million miles per hour for its flights into the sun.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at 
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

Trump net job-approval rating: -16.2 points
Change from one week ago: +0.8 points

Your favorite duo Chris Stirewalt and Dana Perino are back talking the debilitating nature of rage as a cultural expression, the Paris climate agreement, Georgia’s special election and how lunch is overrated. Plus, Dana is bringing “psyche” back from the grave. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

Bloomberg: “Fired FBI Director James Comey will testify June 8 before the Senate Intelligence Committee in its high-stakes investigation of his dismissal by President Donald Trump and potential ties between the president’s campaign and Russian election-meddling. The committee said Comey will appear in an open session in the morning to be followed by a closed session. Senators want to know about Trump’s statements to Comey about the Russia investigation before the president fired him on May 9. During an Oval Office meeting in February, Trump asked Comey to drop the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into former campaign adviser and national security adviser Michael Flynn, said a person who was given a copy of a memo Comey wrote about the conversation. Trump has denied trying to quash the probe.”

Report: Brexit backer Farage eyed in Russia probe - The Guardian: “Nigel Farage is a ‘person of interest’ in the US counter-intelligence investigation that is looking into possible collusion between the Kremlin and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the Guardian has been told. Sources with knowledge of the investigation said the former Ukip leader had raised the interest of FBI investigators because of his relationships with individuals connected to both the Trump campaign and Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder whom Farage visited in March.”

Dueling subpoenas from House committee - Fox News: “Three of the nation’s intelligence agencies received subpoenas Wednesday afternoon issued by the House Intelligence Committee … each of the three demands for documents explicitly naming three top officials of the Obama administration: Susan Rice …  former CIA Director John Brennan; and former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power. The three subpoenas were among a total of seven signed by panel chairman Rep. Devin Nunes.

The Judge’s Ruling: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? - Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano examines the unchecked power of the NSA: “It leaves us with a public recognition that we are the most spied-upon people in world history and that the president himself has been a victim.” More here.

RedState: “Andrew Therriault is the former Director of Data Science at the Democratic National Committee … he was involved with putting together models aimed at helping Hillary Clinton win. Naturally, she didn’t, and in yet another case of Clinton blaming others for her loss, she targeted the DNC specifically: … ‘I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party … its data was mediocre to poor, non-existent, wrong.’ … Hillary’s words didn’t sit well with Mr. Therriault who heard the news and tweeted: ‘irony of her bashing DNC data: *our* models never had mi/wi/pa looking even close to safe. Her team thought they knew better.’ … Having worked with data guys for years … one thing they do not take kindly to is accusations their data is no good. I suspect we have not heard the last from Mr. Therriault about the DNC’s data.”

Biden launches PAC: ‘We're better than this’ The Hill: “Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday officially launched his political action committee, American Possibilities. Biden, who opted not to seek the Democratic White House nomination last year following the death of his son Beau has fueled speculation about a 2020 bid with the creation of the group. ‘Our politics has become too small and petty. We’re better than this,’ the former six-term senator said in a series of tweets that included an official link to the new PAC's website.”

NYT: “President Trump has given at least 16 White House staff members dispensation to work on policy matters they handled while employed as lobbyists or to interact with their former colleagues in private-sector jobs … more than five times the number granted in the first four months of the Obama administration … The list includes high-profile names such as Reince Priebus, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, and Kellyanne Conway … The waiver … allows White House aides to ‘participate in communications and meetings with news organizations on matters of broad policy’ even if they involve ‘a former employer or former client.’”

Star-Ledger: “New Jersey's 2017 primary election [Tuesday] in the race to succeed Gov. Chris Christie could be one for the history books, with nearly a dozen hopefuls shelling out close to $28 million so far, according to the latest spending report. Only four other past primary elections outpace the current figure spent by the 11 hopefuls, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. But if independent committees' spending is taken into account, which totals about $8.8 million, the 2017 gubernatorial primary ranks third for most spent. ‘Adjusting for inflation, only the 2005, 2001, 1989 and 1981 gubernatorial primaries cost more,’ Jeff Brindle, ELEC's executive director, said. ‘If you combine candidate and independent spending, this year's primary already has cost nearly $37 million. That tops all but two previous gubernatorial campaigns.’ The 11-day pre-primary gubernatorial reports were released Wednesday. The primary is on June 6.”

No talk of Trump from Virginia front-runner - The Economist: “In Virginia, the only state in the Old Confederacy carried by Hillary Clinton last year, the front-runner for the Republican nomination for governor is trying not to talk about the president. Ed Gillespie, an establishment Republican who worked for George W. Bush and was chairman of the Republican National Committee, is one of three candidates vying for the Republican nomination in the primary on June 13th. But he seems to have little to say about the controversies dogging Donald Trump's new administration.”

Trump Keeps U.S. embassy in Israel in Tel Aviv for now, and most Israelis shrug - NPR

Poll: Trump is his own worst spokesperson; Pence seen as best voice for administration – Monmouth University

Mylan overcharged government $1.3 billion for EpiPen, watchdog says - WSJ

Ohio sues 5 major drug companies for ‘fueling opioid epidemic’ - NPR

“Please do not include us in this.” – The Church of Satan tweeted in response to a journalist labeling a mock decapitation of President Trump “satanic.”

“Thank you for your thoughts in ‘Love in the Time of Covfefe’. Those of us, weary from almost seven months of angry onslaught with no end in sight will do well to heed your advice to attain, albeit brief, respite. Sage advice indeed.” – Suzanne WindhamFiskdaleMass.

[Ed. note: One of my colleagues whom I deeply admire asked me a question Wednesday in that vein: “Are you taking all of your vacation time?” Regular readers might guess that no, I do not. He chastised me gently reminding me that life is too short to afford regrets for missing time with those you love and being truly at rest. I resolve that I will heed my own advice and do better at stepping away from the banks of the turgid river from time to time.]

“You have a way with your writing style that is at once insightful, and also Twainian. You're ability to construct a social truth amidst the glare of the present is invaluable. And you do it all with the front porch wisdom my western-Maryland grandfather would be proud to call his own. I'm proud to read, and the better for it.” – Chris EarleyMesaAriz.

[Ed. note: Thank you! Your praise is so lavish that I almost couldn’t bring myself to repeat it… almost.]

“I had to scratch my head when you asked whether we were equally offended ‘when a washed up rocker called for the beheading of the last president’. After a Google search all I could find was that Ted Nugent had called for ‘riding onto that battlefield and chop their heads off in November’, a clear reference to the election and not nearly as offensive as holding a bloody Trump-like mannequin head in one’s hand.  Was that what you were referencing?  And as to being ‘washed up’, I attended a recent concert and Uncle Ted can still rock with the best of them!” – Russ KiekhaeferMidland, Mich.

[Ed. note: One assumes that Nugent was being as metaphorical in 2012 as his 2017 counterpart was in her performance art. I decline to give either the attention they sought in their blood-minded efforts. Not feeding the trolls is one of the first and most important precepts of our current era. But I do take your point about his abilities as a musician. “Washed-up” was too unkind.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at 
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “The charges against a 36-year-old Tennessee man who threw a dead catfish on the ice during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final on Monday will be withdrawn, according to Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala. … Mr. Waddell was charged with disorderly conduct, possessing an instrument of crime and disrupting a meeting after he smuggled the catfish carcass into PPG Paints Arena and hurled it onto the ice. Mr. Waddell, of Nolensville, Tenn., hid the vacuum-sealed fish carcass in his compression shorts. Once inside, he went to a restroom, pulled the fish out, and then wrapped it in a free T-shirt and towel he’d received earlier until he could throw the fish onto the ice.”

“I think that would all be true if it weren’t a toothless treaty. It has no enforcement mechanism. It is all voluntary. People are supposed to adhere to certain limits, self-imposed. That is the problem with it.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.