Newsom to meet with Trump on wildfires privately near Sacramento

By Carla Marinucci 09/14/2020 12:18 AM EDT

OAKLAND — Gov. Gavin Newsom will join President Donald Trump for a Monday wildfire briefing near Sacramento with state fire and emergency officials, but the meeting will be private, Newsom officials announced Sunday night.

Newsom will then depart separately for his own tour of active fire areas of the state, the governor’s team said Sunday. Trump is expected to appear at a press event later at McClellan Park, a former air base that serves as a home for state firefighting planes. That itinerary suggests the two leaders will not appear together in public Monday.

Fires have ravaged over 3.3 million acres in California — more land than comprises the state of Connecticut — and have caused destruction up and down the West Coast. Wildfires in Oregon and Washington have leveled neighborhoods and forced evacuations after the West suffered drought conditions last winter and experienced record heat this summer.

Trump’s visit follows a three-week period of silence about the fires consuming the West and killing more than two dozen people. But the president has recently won praise from Newsom for devoting federal aid behind the scenes to California.

Still, Trump and the West Coast governors have had divergent messages on the wildfire situation.

Trump, speaking at campaign rallies this weekend in Nevada, criticized California’s fire management practices. He told a Minden, Nev. rally on Saturday that “California has already implemented this extreme agenda. And they’re experiencing massive blackouts.”

On the Western wildfires, he said, “Please remember the words, very simple, forest management. Please remember. It’s about forest management.’’

Newsom and his Democratic counterparts in Oregon and Washington have emphasized that the fires are the direct result of climate change and that the world must act to prevent continued disasters. The governor criticized Trump last month for blaming California and suggesting that the state’s problems were due to a lack of forest “raking” or “cleaning.”

Touring fire remains near Oroville on Friday, Newsom said, “This is a climate damn emergency.”

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