Greta Thunberg

Trump, Facing Impeachment Vote, Attacks Teen Greta Thunberg

It's the second time that Trump has mocked Thunberg, who bested Trump on a shortlist of Time's contenders over what the magazine said was her success at becoming "the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement"

Time Person of the Year
Time via AP

President Donald Trump criticized the selection of climate activist Greta Thunberg as Time Magazine's Person of the Year, tweeting on Thursday that the 16-year-old Swede "must work on her Anger Management," hours before the House Judiciary Committee was set for a historic vote to advance articles of impeachment.

It's the second time that Trump has mocked Thunberg, who bested Trump on a shortlist of Time's contenders over what the magazine said was her success at becoming "the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement."

Thunberg in response changed her Twitter bio, as she has previously when criticized by Trump and Brazil's president.

It now reads: "A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend."

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She has been outspoken about her diagnosis with Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder associated with high intelligence and impaired social skills. “I have Aspergers and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm," she tweeted this year. "And - given the right circumstances- being different is a superpower.”

It's not the first time Trump has lashed out after not being recognized for his influence. In 2015, Trump attacked German Chancellor Angela Merkel for “ruining Germany” after she was named Person of the Year, when he was listed as a runner-up.

Thunberg had said she was surprised and honored Wednesday to be named Time's youngest Person of the Year, while adding that others in the global movement she helped inspire deserve to share the accolade.

She has become the face of a new generation of environmental activists, drawing large crowds with her appearances at protests and conferences over the past year and a half. Some have welcomed her work, including her speeches challenging world leaders to do more to stop global warming. But Trump and others on the right have criticized her sometimes combative tone.

As she left a U.N. climate conference in Madrid Wednesday, Thunberg told The Associated Press that she was "a bit surprised" at the recognition.

"I'm of course, very grateful for that, very honored," Thunberg said, but added: "It should be everyone in the Fridays for Future movement because what we have done, we have done together."

Thunberg said she hoped the message being pushed by her and other activists — that governments need to drastically increase their efforts to combat climate change — is finally getting through. The "Greta effect" has already been linked to a rise in support for environmental parties in Europe.

But she insisted that the media should also pay attention to other activists, particularly indigenous people, whom she said "are hit hardest by the climate and environmental crisis."

Her concern over the slayings of indigenous Brazilians in the Amazon drew a harsh rebuke from the Latin American nation's president Tuesday.

"Greta said that the Indians died because they were defending the Amazon," Jair Bolsonaro said. "It's impressive that the press is giving space to a brat like that," he added, using the Portuguese word "pirralha."

Thunberg responded by changing her bio on Twitter, where she has over 3 million followers, to say "Pirralha."

Back in September Thunberg also drew Trump's attention after she gave an impassioned speech at the United Nations urging world leaders to do more to combat climate change. She argued that leaders "are failing us" and repeatedly said, "How dare you?"

"She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!" Trump said then.

That mockery prompted Thunberg to change her Twitter bio to read: "A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future."

Thunberg has also been a strong advocate of science, regularly citing complex studies about the causes and impacts of climate change.

On Wednesday, she used her address at the U.N.'s annual climate summit to accuse governments and businesses of misleading the public by holding talks that she said aren't going to stop the world's "climate emergency."

"The real danger is when politicians and CEOs are making it look like real action is happening, when in fact almost nothing is being done, apart from clever accounting and creative PR," she said.

Thunberg cited scientific reports showing that national pledges to reduce reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions aren't enough to meet the ambitious goal set in the 2015 Paris climate accord of keeping temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsis (2.7 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century.

Thunberg said the youth climate movement, which has staged repeated worldwide protests attended by hundreds of thousands of people, has managed to spread awareness about the need to urgently emissions and help those already affected by global warming.

Asked whether she thought world leaders were beginning to respond to this message, Thunberg told the AP: "They say they listen and they say they understand, but it sure doesn't seem like it."

"If they really would listen and understand then I think they need to prove that by translating that into action," she added.

Thunberg said the experience of the past 15 months, going from solo-protester outside the Swedish parliament to speaking in front of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, had changed her.

"I think life is much more meaningful now that I have something to do that has an impact," she said.

Copyright Associated Press/NBC
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