Mikhail Metzel, Pool via AP

President Trump said Wednesday that Vladimir Putin would have preferred Hillary Clinton win the 2016 election, in part because the U.S. is exporting more energy than it would have under Clinton.

He's right that the U.S. is probably going to export more natural gas and oil under his administration than it would have under Clinton — as for the broader point about Putin wanting Clinton to win, I'll leave that to others to debate.

Why it matters: The never-ending story of the day seems to be how deep ties run between Trump and Russia. On energy, Trump doesn't seem to be softening plans that go against what Putin wants. The president appears genuinely serious about encouraging more oil and natural gas production and exports that will hurt Russia, whose economy is heavily dependent upon such exports.

The quote: "We're going to be exporting energy – he doesn't want that," Trump said in an interview with CNB published in part on Wednesday. "He would like Hillary where she wants to have windmills. He would much rather have that because energy prices would go up and Russia as you know relies very much on energy."

The other candidate: As secretary of state, Clinton was actually quite aggressive in touting how American oil and natural gas can be used as a geopolitical tool influencing other nations. But during the presidential election, Clinton adopted more liberal policies against fossil-fuel production as she responded to Bernie Sanders' campaign. Maybe Clinton would have moved back to the center on this issue as president, but she nonetheless would have been more susceptible to giving into pressure from environmental groups in a way Trump isn't.

To be sure:

It's still early in the Trump administration, and its policies toward energy exports could still evolve. What's more, the administration's power over Russia's influence in energy is limited, as I reported in my

Harder Line column

this week about natural-gas exports.

Go deeper

Over 73 million people watched the first debate on TV

Data: Nielsen; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 73.1 million people watched the first presidential debate on television on Tuesday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: While that's a sizable audience for any American TV program, it's down more than 13% from the record number of TV viewers who tuned in for the first debate of the 2016 election. The chaotic nature of the debate and the overall uncertainty around this year's election may have pushed some viewers away.

Senate passes bill funding government through December

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to fund the federal government through Dec. 11, by a vote of 84-10.

Where it stands: The legislation will avert a government shutdown before funding expires Wednesday night and before the Nov. 3 election. The House passed the same measure last week by a vote of 359-57 after House Democrats and the Trump administration agreed on the resolution.

  • Both sides agreed early in negotiations that the bill should be a "clean" continuing resolution — meaning each party would only make small changes to existing funding levels so the measure would pass through both chambers quickly, Axios' Alayna Treene reported last week. The bill now goes to President Trump for his signature.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Technology

The age of engineering life begins

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Synthetic biology startups raised some $3 billion through the first half of 2020, up from $1.9 billion for all of 2019, as the field brings the science of engineering to the art of life.

The big picture: Synthetic biologists are gradually learning how to program the code of life the way that computer experts have learned to program machines. If they can succeed — and if the public accepts their work — synthetic biology stands to fundamentally transform how we live.

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