Jun 18, 2019

Trump calls alleged Iranian oil tanker attacks "very minor"

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump — in a TIME interview posted late Monday night — downplayed the alleged Iranian attacks against two tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week, calling them "very minor."

The backdrop: It published just hours after Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan announced U.S. is deploying an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East in response to "hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups."

The intrigue: "Trump argued that the Gulf of Oman is less strategically important for the United States now than it used to be," the magazine reports.

  • “Other places get such vast amounts of oil there,” Trump told Time. “We get very little."
  • Last Friday, he backed up Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's accusation that Iran is responsible for the attacks: "Iran did do it. You know they did it because you saw the boat, I guess one of the mines didn't explode and it's probably got essentially Iran written all over it."

Quick take: It's true that U.S. crude imports from the region have been plummeting for years as U.S. production has surged, as Bloomberg's Javier Blas notes.

  • But roughly 18 million barrels per day — nearly a fifth of global demand — pass through the Strait of Hormuz.

The bottom line: Closure of the passage or a major conflict in the region would nonetheless send oil prices skyrocketing, affecting U.S. consumers and industries.

Go deeper: Pentagon releases additional photos alleging Iran behind oil tanker attacks

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,252,265 — Total deaths: 68,413 — Total recoveries: 258,495Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 325,185 — Total deaths: 9.267 — Total recoveries: 16,820Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. Surgeon general says this week will be "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. Biden says DNC may have to hold virtual convention.
  5. States updates: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is "literally going day-to-day" with supplies.
  6. Work update: Queen Elizabeth II urges the British people to confront pandemic with "self-discipline" and "resolve" in rare televised address.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Queen Elizabeth addresses U.K. amid coronavirus crisis: "We will meet again"

In a rare televised address on Sunday, Queen Elizabeth II urged the United Kingdom to respond to the coronavirus pandemic with the "self-discipline" and "resolve" that have defined the British people in moments of crisis.

Why it matters: It's just the fifth time that the queen, who traditionally speaks to the nation once a year on Christmas Day, has addressed the British people in this way during her 68-year reign.

Go deeperArrow16 mins ago - World

Cuomo says New York is "literally going day-to-day with our supplies"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference on Sunday that New York is struggling to maintain medical supplies while combatting the novel coronavirus — operating "literally" on a "day-to-day" basis.

Why it matters: New York City has become an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, facing mass quarantines and stay-at-home orders. Cuomo said Saturday that New York reported 630 new deaths in 24 hours — an "all-time increase" that beat the previous day's record of 562 deaths.