Donald Trump bragged Monday that he could extort millions from corporations if he wanted.
ExxonMobil denied a "hypothetical" claim by Donald Trump on Monday that he could extort millions in campaign funds from the company in exchange for permits. But public records show the fossil fuel behemoth did donate $500,000 for his 2017 inauguration.
"We are aware of the President's statement regarding a hypothetical call with our CEO,” the company tweeted on Monday evening, "and just so we're all clear, it never happened."
The statement in question came at a Trump campaign rally in Prescott, Arizona. Trump, who has been vastly outraised over the past several months by Joe Biden, bragged that he "would be the greatest fundraiser in history" but for his not wanting to be "totally compromised."
"I call the head of Exxon. I don't know, you know... 'How are you doing? How's energy coming? When are you doing the exploration? Oh, you need a couple of permits?'" Trump told supporters. "I say, 'You know, I'd love you to send me $25 million for the campaign.’ ‘Absolutely sir, why didn’t you ask? Would you like some more?'"
"The president appeared to be describing a hypothetical situation. No such conversation occurred," an ExxonMobil spokesperson said Tuesday in an email. "ExxonMobil complies with all applicable laws and regulations and our political contributions are publicly available and filed with the appropriate regulatory agencies and authorities."
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.
But while Trump may not have actually demanded or received a $25 million bribe from ExxonMobil, reality is not that much better.
Just weeks earlier, Trump had announced that he had selected ExxonMobil's then-chair and CEO, Rex Tillerson, to be his secretary of state. Trump praised him as "one of the truly great business leaders of the world." (He would later fire Tillerson via tweet and call him "dumb as a rock.")
Trump repaid the company and his other oil and gas industry backers with decidedly pro-industry policies. His administration has cut enforcement of anti-pollution laws, pushed massive pipelines, expanded drilling, and rolled back several Obama-era climate regulations.
In April, ExxonMobil's current CEO, Darren Woods, joined Trump at the White House for a meeting with energy sector executives about the impact of COVID-19 on their industry.
"I’d like to add my thanks for your leadership in this space, as well, and say I think all of our companies here align with your objective, which is to get the economy moving and to make people’s lives around the world better," Woods told Trump.
"Good. Great job you’ve done. Thank you," Trump replied.
In a July White House fact sheet, Trump's administration bragged of "achieving historic deregulation" of the energy sector. "With the help of the President’s policies, American energy companies will be at the forefront of our Nation’s rapid economic recovery."
By about a two-to-one majority, most Americans say they do not believe Trump to be honest and trustworthy. A majority also say they believe he abuses his office.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.