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Photo: Jim Watson/Getty Images

President Trump inched closer to supporting tariffs on oil imports on Saturday as one way to help the industry in historic turmoil over rock-bottom prices.

Why it matters: More than 70 oil companies could go bankrupt in the coming months, consultancy Rystad Energy said Friday, if U.S. oil prices are around $30 a barrel — which is above where they’ve been lately.

Driving the news: “If I have to do tariffs on oil coming from outside or something to protect tens of thousands of energy workers in our great companies that produce these jobs, I will do what I have to do,” Trump said at Saturday’s briefing.

Between the lines: His comments represent a shift toward supporting such a move, one of the more aggressive steps the government could take, compared to Friday’s briefing.

The big picture: As the coronavirus pandemic threatens lives around the world, it’s shutting down a global economy driven by oil consumption. This, along with a related price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, is sending oil prices into a tailspin and producers are scrambling to stay afloat.

  • Trump and his administration have been prodding Saudi and Russian officials to strike a deal to cut production and raise prices.

The intrigue: While all oil companies are suffering under cheap prices, bigger producers don’t support tariffs or other measures where the government would directly intervene in oil markets. Officials regulating the sector are also hesitant.

  • Ryan Sitton, a commissioner of the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the state’s oil production, said he doesn’t support tariffs.
  • “My hope is that we don’t get to that, my hope is that the market gets balanced through good leadership on behalf of major oil producers,” said Sitton, referring to the U.S. (mainly Texas) and Saudi Arabia and Russia.

What we’re watching: Canada is in discussions with the U.S. about the possibility of tariffs on Saudi and Russian oil if the two countries don’t quickly reach a deal on a price war, the Financial Times reported earlier Saturday.

Go deeper: Trump reluctant to intervene in oil markets

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."

Cedric Richmond: We won't wait on GOP for "insufficient" stimulus

Top Biden adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" the White House believes it has bipartisan support for a stimulus bill outside the Beltway.

  • "If our choice is to wait and go bipartisan with an insufficient package, we are not going to do that."

The big picture: The bill will likely undergo an overhaul in the Senate after House Democrats narrowly passed a stimulus bill this weekend, reports Axios' Kadia Goba.