"Morning Joe" panelists said Friday that President Trump's Rose Garden announcement to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement was done as a "distraction" from the probe into his administration and campaign's connections to Russia.
Despite the announcement on the Paris deal, MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski led the show off with news about a planned meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Later in the hour, after discussion of White House Jared Kushner's secret meeting with a Russian bank executive, Scarborough asked Mark Halperin "where does all of this put us?"
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"People are going to be screeching about Paris for a day," Scarborough said. "I mean, Trump set this up on purpose."
"Yeah, it's a good distraction," Brzezinski said, mocking Trump's decision to have a band play in the Rose Garden.
"Then he blabbers about things that aren't true, and then the ideological world is distracted, and everybody's hyperbolic for 15 minutes, and now we're back to Russia," Scarborough said.
Halperin said the White House is looking for "opportunities to get Russia out of the news."
"There's no doubt that they feel it's a good day when they can do that," he said. "There aren't as many things they can do as big as they did yesterday."
Later, Brzezinski posited that there was a "potential" that the climate announcement was a "massive distraction."
"We led [the show] with Russia today, because that's a bigger story," she said. "You're going to need a shinier penny from the White House to get us to get off that story."
She read off a New York Times analysis slamming Trump's climate speech as based on half-baked facts.
"It almost appears, one could argue, that he's doing destruction to America's standing on the international stage just to distract, just to move the chaos in another direction," Brzezinski said.
"Sure," columnist Mike Barnicle said. "You could make a case even more strongly about that with the stagecraft yesterday."
Barnicle compared the announcement to a Broadway show, complete with glowing introductory and concluding remarks by Vice President Mike Pence and Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt.