Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump, speaking at the NATO summit in Europe Wednesday morning, said he believes Germany is "captive to" and "totally controlled" by Russia because of the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Be smart, from Axios' future editor Steve LeVine: This is the sound of a natural gas war. Trump wants Germany — an enormous gas purchaser — to buy American liquefied natural gas and is attempting to steal the market now held by Russia.

The details: Nord Stream 2 is an expansion of an existing pipeline, Nord Stream 1, that already transports some gas from Russia to Germany, per the WSJ. This controversial second phase would go live in 2019.

  • The pipeline would likely boost Russia’s authority in Europe when it comes to gas deliveries, according to Ukraine and other European allies. CNBC's Natasha Turak has also written that the pipeline would “increase Germany’s reliance on Russian energy supply.”
  • Nord Stream 2 also runs counter to the EU's energy security strategy, which it outlined in 2014 with a focus on diversity, according to The Atlantic Council.

What Trump's saying: The president has warned that if Germany wants to develop a trade deal with the U.S., it would be dependent on whether Germany drops its Nord Stream 2 plans with Russia.

  • But Germany has said previously that calling the deal off is not legally possible, since all the permits for the pipeline have been issued, per the WSJ.
  • Meanwhile, the State Department’s Dandra Oudkirk has signaled that companies involved in the pipeline project could be subject to U.S. sanctions.

What they’re saying:

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel fired back at Trump, stating that while part of Germany used to be controlled by Soviet Russia, it is not anymore.
  • Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told CNBC that “Germany is an independent country where energy supply is concerned, we diversify.”

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Fauci says if people won't wear masks, maybe it should be mandated

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Graeme Jennings- Pool/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday evening that if "people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Why it matters: Fauci made the comments the same day the U.S. hit its highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began.

Harris to Black voters: Casting a ballot is about honoring your ancestors

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris speaks at a "Get Out The Vote" rally at Morehouse College. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris appealed to Black voters in Georgia on Friday, urging them to "honor the ancestors" by casting ballots, and again calling President Trump a "racist."

Why it matters: The U.S. saw a significant decline in African-American voter turnout between 2012 and 2016, reaching its lowest point since 2000. Higher turnout among Black Americans this year could tip the balance in favor of Democrats in key battleground states, including Georgia.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci: Trump hasn't been to a COVID task force meeting in months.
  2. Sports: The youth sports exodus continues — Big Ten football is back.
  3. Health: U.S. hits highest daily COVID-19 case count since pandemic began —AstraZeneca to resume vaccine trial in U.S.How to help save 130,000 lives.
  4. Retail: Santa won't greet kids at Macy's this year.
  5. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.