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

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump's Tucker mind-meld

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images and BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

If you want to understand the rhetorical roots of Trump's Independence Day speech at Mount Rushmore, go back and watch Tucker Carlson's monologues for the past six weeks.

Between the lines: Trump — or rather his speechwriter Stephen Miller — framed the president's opposition to the Black Lives Matter protest movement using the same imagery Carlson has been laying out night after night on Fox.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 11,366,145 — Total deaths: 532,644 — Total recoveries — 6,154,138Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 2,874,396 — Total deaths: 129,870 — Total recoveries: 906,763 — Total tested: 35,512,916Map.
  3. States: Photos of America's pandemic July 4 ICU beds in Arizona hot spot near capacity — Houston mayor warns about hospitals
  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
  5. Politics: Former Trump official Tom Bossert says face masks “are not enough”
  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
  7. Sports: Sports return stalked by coronavirus
  8. 1 📽 thing: Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.

Bolton's hidden aftershocks

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The news media has largely moved on, but foreign government officials remain fixated on John Bolton's memoir, "The Room Where It Happened."

Why it matters: Bolton's detailed inside-the-Oval revelations have raised the blood pressure of allies who were already stressed about President Trump's unreliability.