In a stunning exchange Friday, Gloria Steele, Acting Assistant Administrator for Asia in Donald Trump’s administration, completely froze after being asked whether climate change has “anything at all to do with” rising sea levels, BuzzFeed reports.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) was asking Steele about the historic flooding in Bangladesh, which has killed more than 1,000 people and destroyed an estimated 100,000 homes in the South Asian country.
“Could the fact that a third of an entire sovereign nation—Bangladesh—being under water, could it have anything at all to do with, I don’t know, the warming of the climate,” Connolly asked Steele.
In response, Steele, who served as Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia before she was tapped by Trump to serve as acting assistant administrator, simply smiled, mouth agape, unable to answer the Congressman’s question.
As BuzzFeed notes, Steele has previously offered Congressional testimony on the impact of climate change on South Asian countries. But that was under former President Barack Obama, whose administration viewed global warming as one of the most immediate threats to the United States and the planet writ large.
Trump, on the other hand, has repeatedly called climate change a “hoax” orchestrated by the Chinese, and announced at the beginning of his administration that the United States will pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, joining just two other countries—Nicaragua and Syria—in opposing the deal.
Watch the video below, via BuzzFeed: