Can We Spell “Quid Pro Quo”?

A number of media sources have reported on a recent meeting between Donald Trump and fossil fuel company executives, at which Trump–often described as a “transactional” personality–offered a deal: if the industry would put a billion dollars into his campaign, once elected, he’d get rid of government efforts to combat climate change.

These reports triggered a couple of immediate reactions for me: (1) “Transactional” is a nice word for acting like a mob boss. And (2) the reports should ease Democratic anxieties about young people potentially deserting Biden; the younger generation is (quite properly) the population most concerned with climate change.

Even the New York Times–which has been the traditional news source most likely to normalize Trump’s behaviors– reported on the proposed “transaction.”

Former President Donald J. Trump told a group of oil executives and lobbyists gathered at a dinner at his Mar-a-Lago resort last month that they should donate $1 billion to his presidential campaign because, if elected, he would roll back environmental rules that he said hampered their industry, according to two people who were there.

The executives who attended were from ExxonMobil, EQT Corporation and the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for the oil industry. According to the Washington Post, the dinner was organized by oil billionaire Harold Hamm, who has for years helped shape Republican energy policies.

Mr. Trump has publicly railed for months against President Biden’s energy and environmental agenda, as Mr. Biden has raced to restore and strengthen dozens of climate and conservation rules that Mr. Trump had weakened or erased while in office. In particular, Mr. Trump has promised to eliminate Mr. Biden’s new climate rules intended to accelerate the nation’s transition to electric vehicles, and to push a “drill, baby, drill” agenda aimed at opening up more public lands to oil and gas exploration.

Over a dinner of chopped steak, Mr. Trump repeated his public promises to delete Mr. Biden’s pollution controls, telling the attendees that they should donate heavily to help him beat Mr. Biden because his policies would help their industries.

“That has been his pitch to everybody,” said Michael McKenna, who worked in the Trump White House but did not attend the event in Florida.

Mr. McKenna said the former president’s appeal to the fossil fuel industry could be summed up as: “Look, you want me to win. You might not even like me, but your other choice is four more years of these guys,” referring to the Biden administration. He added, “The uniform sentiment of guys in the business community is ‘We don’t want four more years of Team Biden.’”

When asked for comment, a Trump spokesperson attacked President Biden, accusing him of being controlled “by environmental extremists” and “forcing Americans to purchase electric vehicles they can’t afford.” Actually, although Biden has pursued a robust climate agenda, he has balanced climate concerns with accommodation of America’s energy needs.

Mr. Biden has frustrated the fossil fuel industry by pursuing the most ambitious climate agenda in the nation’s history. He has signed a sweeping law that pumps $370 billion into incentives for clean energy and electric vehicles and has enacted a suite of tough regulations designed to sharply reduce emissions from the burning of oil, gas and coal.

This year, the Biden administration paused the permitting process for new facilities that export liquefied natural gas in order to study their impact on climate change, the economy and national security.

But the fossil fuel industry has also enjoyed record profits under the Biden administration. Last year, the United States produced record amounts of oil. And even with the pause in new permits for gas export terminals, the United States is the world’s leading exporter of natural gas and is still on track to nearly double its export capacity by 2027 because of projects already permitted and under construction.

Mr. Biden has also approved several oil and gas projects sought by the fossil fuel industry.

He has authorized an enormous $8 billion oil development in Alaska known as the Willow project. He also granted a crucial permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a project championed by Senator Joe Manchin III, a West Virginia Democrat, despite opposition from climate experts and environmental groups. Last month, undeterred by opposition from climate activists, the Biden administration also gave approval for an oil export project in Texas known as the Sea Port Oil Terminal.

That’s clearly not enough for our fossil fuel overlords, who may well accept the “deal” Trump is offering.  As one wag posted on X (formerly Twitter):

A second Trump term may involve suspension of the Constitution, the purging of the civil service, and the military deployed in American streets. But what will it mean for gas prices?


  1. It’s not surprising that Trump made his pitch to these guys in “energy”. They are connected directly to their stockholders who, despite record profits due to price gouging, want still more money/power. They are loath to invest in new energy forms because of the up-front capital cost. Easy room for Trump to work.

    BUT Trump is a most loathsome creature even for oil executives (And that says a lot about how low the bar is for the money grubbers.). But a billion dollars will be used to pay off his lawyers and legal bills, not for his campaign. He’s really conning these money guys too … just as he’s been conning everyone for decades.

    I noticed how the Times kept calling President Biden “Mr.”. Why do I feel that is a – wink, wink – slight to their editorial positions on Biden’s policies? What the hell do they expect? So much for just reporting the news.

  2. As this post points out, Biden has been very friendly to the fossil fuel industry over the past four years. In case folks have forgotten, Biden sanctioned Russia and blew up Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, forcing Europeans to buy LNG from the US. This was a boon for the industry.

    The youth has been watching the coziness of these transactions. They pay attention. They are especially ticked off about drilling in pristine Alaska.

    It’s no secret that Big Oil & Gas holds significant sway over both political parties. The existing quid pro quo system thrives under the influence of this oligarchy and its captured political institutions. Biden’s protectionist measures have shielded the oligarchy and Europe, the US’s loyal follower, from external competition. Rishi Sunak’s attempt to blame Russia for the mass exodus of people unable to afford their energy bills is a laughable diversion.

    Blatant lies that are easily verifiable won’t work in the internet age. Biden has done too much damage to the younger generations for them to stand by his side in November.

    Today, Biden, in another protectionist move for Big Auto, attached a 100% tariff on Chinese EVs entering the country. Trump promised the same tariff months ago. Do you see how they work in tandem to assist the oligarchy (donor class)?

    The Chinese have mastered production efficiency because they’ve invested in technology over the years while we spend our money on wars. The proverbial chickens are coming home to roost. 😉

  3. “Blatant lies that are easily verifiable won’t work in the internet age.” I started to reply to that statement, but I had to vomit.

  4. We are fighting for not only the country but the earth and all life in the future. We can not know the future until it’s too late to prepare for it but science can certainly bracket the possibilities. What those efforts reveal we cannot afford.

    We all know people who gambled on a future they could not afford if the future went south on them and they lost more then they could afford. Those stories are minor compared to this one.

    We are watching the previews on the news nowadays and we all should all be paying attention but only a few are. Heads in the sand.

    Sometimes determining the cause and effect network of the universe is easier than spreading the word in a world of mixed messages.

  5. Trump proposes to defile the environment for money from the defilers. He has made the statement. Is this another trial for his dark future? And has anyone else seen evidence that the US blew up Nord Stream? Is someone covering for the Russians?

  6. One of my friends in the medical research field once said that the Federal government moves like a glacier, slowly! That’s the essence of government. It moves slowly and, if it’s decent government, it moves generally in the right direction. That’s what we have now! Change might not be happening as quickly as we’d like, but it is happening.

    If you don’t understand the difference between the boring old guy who likes ice cream and the psycho who only loves power, allow me to help. Change might come quickly under the latter, but will it be the change we want or need? Climate change will happen at a much faster clip. Guys like Todd will be, at the very least, harassed and more likely disappeared. Remember that the guy is under the thrall of the tyrant who has reintroduced the practice of defenestration in Russia.

    We have to work hard to achieve any goal. Every good thing that we have done as a nation has taken years.
    Sometimes more than one generation must buy into the idea. Women’s rights are the best example. We were moving forward, from 1776 when Abigail Adams begged her husband to include women in the Constitution, until the SCOTUS, largely due to tfg and friends, turned us back to the 14th century. We can turn that around by voting blue in November. Help us do that.

  7. defenestration

    I love that word. How can we stop defenestration in America? There is a lot of it on our streets and highways. People who throw trash out of their car windows are defenestrators. It is an act of terror, open treason against authority, and bad manners. Perhaps they need psychiatric attention, but I suggest permanent confiscation of the vehicles and revocation of the drivers’ licences of all in the vehicle. Vote for Civility! Protest for Civility!! March for Civility!!! Gun down the Defenestrators!!!! Extremism in Defense of Civility is a blow for Neatness!

  8. Protectionism is sometimes good policy within an overall policy designed to protect domestic industry. Generally speaking, I am opposed to protectionism as policy, but China does not have our best interests at heart in other areas (see Taiwan, balloons etc.), and protectionist policy can be a market tool to, inter alia, adversely affect their domestic industry and, perhaps, their current hostility to us in other areas where there is now open talk of war. Trade and diplomacy can be two sides of the same coin.

    So give me a billion and I’ll end this environmental nonsense, eh, Don? Should that happen, Trump will lose the election, not having represented the some 330 million people here (and billions abroad who want to breathe) he will have pretended to represent, instead representing the interests of our domestic fossil fuel industry, and if that is to be the new norm, think of all the other special interests who will be ponying up to Swiss and other secretive banks (or in plain view these days) to have their interests protected from regulation and policy and in derogation of the common good. If elected, Don will make a ton. . .

    If this open purchase of regulation and policy by special interests is to be the new norm, then we may as well make it official via abolition of elections of front men and women and installation of the Chamber of Commerce into the Oval Office and our congressional chambers (where they are anyway, but sans bribes, which you and I are paying today via the Chamber’s higher prices for its goods and services).

  9. The Trump spokesperson is just an extension of Trump, which does make sense, and he/she lies blithely, maybe with a smile!
    What we are witnessing is bribery, plain and simple.
    This almost person, Trump, is too sick to see that what seems normal to him is simply felonious to the rest of us…like any other mob boss.

  10. Are there any CEOs in the greater corporate world who are not sociopaths? I really wonder. Did any of these people attending the dinner (Chopped steak?!?! Really?!?) see anything wrong about being offered “deal” if they just gave up a cool billion?
    He acts like a mob boss because he learned from his father, as well as those who have a deep history in the casino business, just how to do what you want with no concern for legalities because you pay/intimidate others to do the dirty work while your grubby little hands remain clean. Plausible deniability is the name of the game and he is a master at it.
    The results of the recent GOP primary in Indiana should give everyone pause. $61M spent by the candidates for a job that pays $134,000 a year. It’s a joke to think that there isn’t a lot of quid pro quo going on. Why would anyone spend millions for a job that pays pennies in comparison. It is not about the money. It is about the power and potential for “deals” to come.
    Almost half a million Indiana voters pulled the lever for the GQP. That means that they have no issues with corruption and greed as long as they believe that the results will be in their favor or at least not negatively impact them.
    I fear for the future of this country as I watch in astonishment as so many are willing to bargain with the devil. It will not end well for most of us. History predicts that even those who think they stand to gain by complicity or disengagement will wind up under the bus one way or another.

  11. Trump has been telling us who he is for years and not enough people have been listening. To say that the man is “transactional” is to propagate a euphemism! The man is an absolute criminal.

    The man has been found guilty of rape by a jury.
    The man has been found guilty of fraud by a judge.
    The man is on trial for falsification of business records for the purpose of affecting the outcome of an election.
    The man has been charged with attempting to steal an election by enticing civil servants to mis-count votes.
    The man has been charged with fomenting a violent insurrection at the US Capital.
    The man has been charged with stealing hundreds of classified documents from the US Government and repeatedly moving them around to keep the Government from recovering them.
    The man is about to get charged by the IRS for fraudulently double dipping on depreciation on one of his real estate projects.
    The man has blatantly solicited a bribe to change public policy (a felony) as described in Sheila’s article above.
    The man has been called a blasphemer by at least one honorable Christian cleric.

    I am baffled that ANY respectable person can hold this man up as an exemplar of our society that should be entrusted with direction of our Ship of State.

    In my humble opinion; any person who is actively supporting him and is also running for elective office needs to be denied election as well. By supporting him they are absolving him of his aforementioned crimes and are, therefore, guilty by association! In Indiana that means Banks, Braun, and Rokita for sure.

  12. As an aside, I also had to laugh at chopped steak for billionaires. That’s SO Trump.

    Sanctions on Russian oil, etc. since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has changed the world oil market. European allied so dependent on Russian oil were left in the lurch without the U.S. coming to the rescue. THAT’s why the U.S. has escalated oil production. The production here is much more likely to be planet-friendly than oil produced in either Russia or China. I’m glad Joe Biden understands such things. I’m not sure oil executives do.

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