Donald Trump mocked climate change saying that the US east coast “could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming” as temperatures plunged to levels that froze sharks to death.
Mr Trump used the arctic conditions gripping the country to vindicate his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord earlier this year.
Writing on Twitter, from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, he said: “In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. “Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!”
Democrats slammed the comments as “embarrassing”. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading contender to take on Mr Trump for the White House in 2020, said: “I’m going to say something really crazy. I believe in science. Climate change is real and we have a moral obligation to protect this Earth for our children and grandchildren.”
In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2017
Parts of the US have been hit by record snowfall over Christmas.
Freezing conditions were blamed for the deaths of three thresher sharks that washed up on the shores of Cape Cod after suffering “cold shock”.
Greg Skomal, a marine scientist with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, told The New York Times: “If you’ve got cold air that will freeze their gills up very quickly. Those gill filaments are very sensitive and it wouldn’t take long for the shark to die.”
In Toledo, Ohio the Humane Society was looking into the death of a dog found “frozen solid” on a porch. The city of Erie, Pennsylvania, saw 5ft in 48 hours. Minneapolis was expected to see a temperature of -17C on Saturday.
In June Mr Trump, who once described climate change as a “Chinese hoax,” announced the US would withdraw from the Paris agreement which aims to cut global greenhouse gas emissions, drawing criticism from other world leaders including Theresa May.
Last year set a record for Earth’s average global temperature, and the United Nations said last month that 2017 was on track to break that.
Mr Trump’s comments came as White House insiders suggested to Axios he was preparing to become even more outspoken in 2018, and that he would go “full Trump” on issues he believes strongly in.
That would include pressing for trade tariffs on Chinese goods, enthusiasm for a military strike against North Korea, and pushing ahead with his promised wall on the Mexico border.
Mr Trump warned Democrats he would not consider allowing the “Dreamers” – illegal immigrants brought to the US as children – to stay unless the Democrats agreed to help with funding for the wall.
He also slammed the loss-making “dumb and poor” US Postal Service for “charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages”. He added: “Should be charging MUCH MORE!”
Speaking in Florida, Mr Trump also said the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into whether his 2016 election campaign colluded with Russia was “making the US look bad”.
He told the New York Times: “It makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position. So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.
“There is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime. There’s been no collusion. But I think he (Mr Mueller) is going to be fair.”
Mr Mueller has so far charged four Trump associates in his investigation, while Russia has denied interfering in the US election.
Mr Trump said the “real stories” should be about Democrat ties to Russia during the campaign.
Asked if he would order the US Justice Department to reopen an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of emails while she was Secretary of State, Mr. Trump added: “I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.”