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President Trump and King Salman at the 2017 Arabic Islamic American Summit. Photo: Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

President Trump said on Twitter Saturday morning that King Salman of Saudi Arabia has agreed to increase its oil production by as much as 2 million barrels per day "because of the turmoil and disfunction in Iran and Venezuela."

The big picture, from Axios' Ben Geman: A number of analysts have pointed out that, by publicly pressing OPEC for higher production in recent weeks and months, Trump could be seeking to gain politically from a production-increase that the cartel and Russia were slated to make anyway, because the market has tightened considerably. Elevated oil prices — and hence, higher gasoline prices than in recent years — could be politically perilous for Republicans in an election year.

Yes, but: If what Trump says is accurate, and Salman did agree to the 2 million barrels, it would be a surprising development because it goes well beyond the production hike that OPEC and Russia agreed to during careful negotiations in Vienna, which concluded June 23. Pumping that much would also erode Saudi Arabia's spare production capacity.

  • Saudi Arabia released a statement on President Trump and King Salman's phone call, saying they "stressed the need to make efforts to maintain the stability of oil markets, the growth of the global economy, and the efforts of producing countries to compensate for any potential shortage of supplies."
  • No specific promise was made to Trump, a Saudi official told the WSJ.

Go deeper with Ben on Trump's pyrrhic OPEC outcome.

Go deeper

Updated 7 mins ago - Health

The coronavirus variants: What you need to know

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New variants of the coronavirus circulating globally appear to increase transmission and are being closely monitored by scientists.

Driving the news: The highly contagious variant B.1.1.7 originally detected in the U.K. could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by March if no measures are taken to control the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

9 mins ago - World

Abbas announces first Palestinian elections in 15 years

Abbas is 85 and in the 15th year of a 4-year term. Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas published a decree on Friday announcing the dates for parliamentary and presidential elections in the Palestinian Authority.

Why it matters: This is the first time in 15 years that such a decree has been published. The last presidential elections took place in 2005, with Abbas winning, and the last parliamentary elections took place in 2006, with Hamas winning.

Updated 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — America has tuned out the coronavirus at the peak of its destruction — 1 in 3 people in L.A. County believed to have been infected with coronavirus.
  2. Politics: Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan— Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat — Joe Biden will seek nearly $2 trillion in COVID relief spending.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.