Trump hits back at Russia reports by touting energy policies

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump has insisted that he has been tougher on Russia than any of his predecessors while at the same time repeating his calls for a friendlier relationship with Moscow. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Donald Trump shot back at reports that he has secretly acted as a Russian asset, bragging sarcastically on Twitter about an increase in U.S. domestic oil production that he indicated had hurt Russia’s energy industry, a main driver of its economy.

Trump cited a segment on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” that touted lower gas prices across the country, a dip that the generally pro-Trump program attributed to the Trump administration’s deregulatory push in the U.S. energy sector and its increased oil output.

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“But this is bad news for Russia, why would President Trump do such a thing? Thought he worked for Kremlin?” Trump tweeted.

The president’s social media post appeared to be a jab at The New York Times, which reported on Friday that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was secretly acting on behalf of Russia shortly after the president fired FBI Director James Comey. Though the White House denounced the report as “absurd,” Trump in an interview over the weekend did not deny the report outright, instead calling it “insulting.”

The Times reported that investigation has now been taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is examining how Russia interfered in the 2016 election, whether Trump or his campaign sought to assist in those efforts, and whether Trump obstructed justice in the investigation.

Also over the weekend, The Washington Post reported that Trump on at least one occasion had confiscated the notes of his translator in a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and had gone to “extraordinary lengths” to conceal the details of his interactions with Putin over the last two years.

Trump has pushed back on the reports, insisting that he has been tougher on Russia than any of his predecessors while at the same time repeating his calls for a friendlier relationship with Moscow, despite its reputation within the national security establishment as an adversary of the U.S.

The Trump administration has made a massive push for U.S. energy independence, with oil production and exports boosted by a shale boom and deregulatory policies emanating from the White House and federal agencies.

While the White House’s agenda of deregulation has benefited fossil fuel producers, the growth in U.S. energy production began well before Trump took office with the introduction of new drilling techniques that unlocked previously unreachable underground reserves. And while the president claimed that the price of gas has dropped since his arrival at the White House, the average price of gas nationwide is just 10 cents lower than it was in January, 2017.

The larger impact on global oil supplies and prices comes from Saudi Arabia, which has some of the world’s largest oil reserves and plays an outsize role in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the global oil cartel that has massive sway in setting prices worldwide.

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