Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö contradicted President Donald Trump’s claim that he told him that “raking leaves” will prevent forest fires.
Niinistö said he doesn’t remember mentioning raking leaves with Trump, though he acknowledged they did discuss the forest fires currently raging in California when they met in Paris in early November.
“I mentioned [to] him that Finland is a land covered by forests and we also have a good monitoring system and network,” Niinistö told reporters with Finnish newspaper lta-Sanomat, noting that he said “we take care of our forests” during their conversation.
Trump made the claim while visiting Paradise, California, with California Governor Jerry Brown, California Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, and Paradise Mayor Jody Jones. He was asked what could be done to prevent a similar disaster in the future.
“You gotta take care of the floors. You know? The floors of the forest. Very important,” Trump responded. “I was with the President of Finland and he said, ‘We have a much different — we’re a forest nation.’ He called it a ‘forest nation.’ And they spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things, and they don’t have any problem. And when it is, it’s a very small problem.”
"They spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things, and they don't have any problem": Pres. Trump suggests raking could prevent wildfires while touring a town impacted by the deadly California Camp Fire on Saturday. https://t.co/kamY4rB5wa pic.twitter.com/lXjIZL3GS4
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 19, 2018
The president has been criticized for his remarks. He has denied climate change’s role in wildfires. The Camp Fire in Butte County in Northern California, has killed more than 70 people. More than 1,200 others are missing. The Woolsey Fire in Southern California has killed three people. Hundreds of thousands of acres of land have been destroyed by the fires.
Comforter-in-chief adds insult, ignorance to injury.
Denies climate change‘s role in wildfires.
In Paradise, Trump actually said “raking and cleaning and doing things” would prevent death and devastation we‘ve seen here in CA.
1,276 missing. pic.twitter.com/iME3uXp7sU
— Jacob Soboroff (@jacobsoboroff) November 18, 2018
California will not follow Trump’s advice about anything, so we won’t be raking our forests. Trump doesn’t know anything about forest management but he is big on misinformation. In short, Trump is full of himself with no info on Finland’s forest or much of anything else! https://t.co/iOD9PleLOz
— John Dean (@JohnWDean) November 18, 2018
The people of Finland are fighting back with humor, tweeting images of themselves and others raking leaves in the forest. Some have used the hashtag #haravointi, which translates to “raking” in English.
Just an ordinary day in the Finnish forest ~ Ihan normipäivä suomalaisessa metsässä #Trump #forest #firesafety #raking #forestry #Finland #Finnish #CaliforniaFire #RakingAmericaGreatAgain #rakingtheforest #Suomi #haravointi #metsäpalot #rakingleaves pic.twitter.com/YOKA3D6C2K
— Pyry Luminen (@pyryluminen) November 18, 2018
Greetings from #Finland! Just taking a break from raking leaves and having a lunch. We have the best rakes in the world! #RakeAmericaGreatAgain #RakeTheForest #Trump #SundayFunday #SundayMorning #rakenews #CaliforniaWildFires #ClimateChange #haravointi #metsänhoito #CampFire pic.twitter.com/gsM8CbLdSi
— Kristiina Vahvaselkä (@TravelWithXtina) November 18, 2018