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Senate Democrats launch investigation into alleged Trump ‘quid pro quo’ with oil executives

By Kaanita Iyer, CNN

(CNN) — Senate Democrats have launched an inquiry into recent reports that Donald Trump offered oil executives the reversal of some of President Joe Biden’s climate policies upon the former president’s reelection in exchange for campaign contributions.

The chairs of the Senate Finance and Budget committees announced in a joint statement Thursday that they have sent letters to nine oil companies, including ExxonMobile and Chevron, asking for additional information related to a fundraiser event where Trump allegedly sought $1 billion in campaign contributions in return for promises of policy changes to benefit their companies.

The committees are seeking “descriptions of policy proposals discussed” and “materials distributed to any attendees” at the event. Last week, the House Oversight Committee made a similar request to those companies.

“Time and time again, both Mr. Trump and the U.S. oil and gas industry have proved they are willing to sell out Americans to pad their own pockets,” Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island said in a statement. “And now, emboldened by impunity, Mr. Trump and Big Oil are flaunting their indifference to U.S. citizens’ economic well-being for all to see, conferring on how to trade campaign cash for policy changes. Such potential abuses must be scrutinized.”

The congressional probe follows an exclusive report from The Washington Post earlier this month that detailed an April fundraiser event at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort. There, sources with knowledge of the meeting told the Post, one executive expressed frustration with current environmental regulations and shared that he had spent $400 million to lobby the Biden administration.

In response, Trump allegedly promised that in exchange for a $1 billion contribution to his reelection campaign, he would reverse some climate policies, including ending the Biden administration’s pause on approvals for several pending liquified natural gas export projects “the first day,” according to the Post.

The committees are seeking information on any donations made by the company since January 2023 to the Trump 2024 campaign or other political organization supporting his reelection efforts. The chairs have also demanded copies of any “draft executive orders” or “other policy-related documents that were created for the purpose of potential use in a possible Trump.”

Trump’s campaign slammed the investigation Thursday and sought to contrast the former president’s climate platform with that of Biden, who it accused of being “controlled by environmental extremists who are trying to implement the most radical energy agenda in history.”

“President Trump is supported by people who share his vision of American energy dominance to protect our national security and bring down the cost of living for all Americans,” Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt told CNN.

In his first term, Trump overturned more than 100 environmental rules and actions put in place by the Obama administration. The Biden administration has spent much of its tenure undoing Trump’s actions and has enacted stronger regulations on planet-warming pollution coming from vehiclespower plants and the oil and gas industry.

Trump has vowed that if he’s reelected he will reverse those actions and boost fossil fuels, and oil and gas drilling.

CNN’s Morgan Rimmer, Kate Sullivan, Ella Nilsen and Jeremy Herb contributed to this report.

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