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Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Trump said Thursday he's eyeing intervention in the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, a dispute that combined with COVID-19's economic toll is pushing prices sharply downward and creating financial jeopardy for U.S. producers.

At the appropriate time, I will get involved, yes.
— President Trump

Why it matters: The pledge came in Trump's first extensive comments on the upended oil market, but he also suggested that he has mixed feelings about the price collapse.

  • Trump, at a White House briefing on the COVID-19 response, said low gas prices were helpful to consumers. But he also said the decline "hurts a great industry and very powerful industry."
  • "We're trying to find some kind of medium ground," the president said.

Where it stands: Prices for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, rose into the $25-per-barrel range Thursday, since dropping Wednesday to about $20, an 18-year low. However, it's still far below the roughly $63 range where prices were at the beginning of the year.

Catch up fast: Early this month, the production-limiting agreement between OPEC and Russia collapsed, prompting Saudi Arabia to announce lower prices and plans to increase supplies.

  • It comes as drastically curtailed travel and economic activity due to COVID-19 are sharply cutting global demand for oil.

What we don't know: Trump did not say what form the U.S. involvement could take.

But the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the U.S. could ask Saudi Arabia to revisit plans to hike output via communications through the State Department and National Security Council.

The story, citing an unnamed administration official, said the U.S. is weighing potential sanctions against Russia.

  • Separately, the Energy Department on Thursday announced a solicitation to buy an initial 30 million barrels of oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, part of a wider plan to fill the stockpile. However, the plan requires congressional approval.

Go deeper

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Photo: Luka Dakskobler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

We all know, it’s getting worse.

Reality check: Here are a few things every one of us can do to stay safe and sane in coming months:

Biden’s nightmare debut

President-elect Biden speaks in Wilmington on Nov. 24. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

A dim, gloomy scene seems increasingly set for Joe Biden's debut as president.

The state of play: He'll address — virtually — a virus-weary nation, with record-high daily coronavirus deaths, a flu season near its peak, restaurants and small businesses shuttered by wintertime sickness and spread.

Using apps to prevent deadly police encounters

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Mobile phone apps are evolving in ways that can stop rather than simply document deadly police encounters with people of color — including notifying family and lawyers about potential violations in real time.

Why it matters: As states and cities face pressure to reform excessive force policies, apps that monitor police are becoming more interactive, gathering evidence against rogue officers as well as posting social media videos to shame the agencies.