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State Dept official resigns after White House blocks climate testimony

Trump's White House blocked a State Department intelligence official from sharing climate-change information with Congress - so he's quitting.
The US State Department is seen in Washington, DC.
The US State Department is seen in Washington, DC.

A few weeks ago, Vice President Mike Pence was asked whether he considers climate change a threat. The Republican gave every indication that he didn't want to answer, but he eventually said, "[W]hat I will tell you is that we will always follow the science on that in this administration."

It would be reassuring if Pence's claim were true, but not only is the Trump administration failing to follow the science, it's also taking steps to silence those who try. The Washington Post reported yesterday:

A State Department intelligence official who was blocked by the White House from submitting written congressional testimony on climate change last month is resigning from his post.Rod Schoonover -- who worked in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research's Office of the Geographer and Global Issues -- spoke before the House Intelligence Committee on June 5 about the security risks the United States faces because of climate change. But White House officials would not let him submit the bureau's written statement that climate impacts could be "possibly catastrophic," after the State Department refused to cut references to federal scientific findings on climate change.

A Wall Street Journal report added that the Trump White House specifically prohibited Schoonover from including "evidence and data supporting his assessments" on the climate threat in written testimony to the House Intelligence Committee.

His decision to resign soon followed. After roughly a decade of federal service, Schoonover's last day is tomorrow.

This news comes on the heels of the administration stifling climate research from the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, which came on the heels of Donald Trump unveiling a new energy plan intended to help polluters -- despite an assessment from EPA scientists who found that the increased emissions from the plan would lead to 1,400 premature deaths annually over the next decade.

So much for "always following the science."

As for Schoonover, we probably haven't heard the last of him. In fact, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Cailf.) has already made clear he intends to invite the State Department intelligence official back.

"The role of the intelligence community is to speak truth to power -- that's why we are investigating reports that the White House sought to muzzle science-based testimony on the national security impacts of climate change, including testimony by Dr. Schoonover to our Committee last month," Schiff said in a written statement yesterday. "We will be inviting Dr. Schoonover to return to our committee to shed light on alleged efforts to censor his written testimony, and are continuing to press for documents from the intelligence community related to the committee's hearing, to ensure that this doesn't ever happen again."