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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

President Trump is seeking to aggressively invoke America’s oil and natural gas resources to influence geopolitics.

Driving the news: White House officials are citing America’s surging oil production as reason to ban all Iranian oil purchases by Thursday, per Reuters. Meanwhile, in meetings in Brussels, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and European officials are touting a record-setting amount of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) entering Europe, helping to lessen that region’s dependence on Russian gas.

The big picture: America’s oil production has more than doubled over the last decade, going from 5 million barrels a day (b/d) in 2008 to an estimated more than 12 million b/d this year. Amid a parallel boom in natural gas, exports of that fuel in liquefied form have shot up from essentially zero since 2015. America is now the world’s biggest producer of both oil and gas.

Where it stands: Perry and the European Commission are touting a 272% increase of LNG imports to Europe from the U.S. since July of last year when Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to collaborate on the issue.

Between the lines: Trump and other top officials are connecting the dots — on Twitter, in official negotiations and speeches — between American oil and gas production and America’s geopolitical influence more aggressively than Obama administration officials once did.

  • These latest moves follow the stark message Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered to an oil and gas conference earlier this year, urging the industry to help the government with its geopolitical goals.

But, but, but: Experts say America’s oil and gas is having big geopolitical consequences, but that’s not thanks to actions or pronouncements by Trump.

“The stunning surge in U.S. oil and gas output has significant geopolitical implications, but those result from market forces not from government decisions about how that abundance is deployed.”
— Jason Bordoff, director of Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy

One level deeper: Carlos Pascual, who as President Obama’s energy envoy at the State Department was closely involved with that administration’s Iranian sanctions and LNG issues in Europe, shared his thoughts by email with me:

  • Russian gas often remains cheaper than U.S. sources, but even the presence of American gas helps Europe with leverage, Pascual writes.
  • Referencing Trump’s tweet in April in which he said Saudi Arabia will increase production to ensure adequate supply to counterbalance U.S. sanctions on Iran, Pascual writes: “It is quite extraordinary that a U.S. president felt that he could announce Saudi Arabia’s intentions on oil markets.”

What we’re watching: Whether oil prices rise substantially in the aftermath of the Iranian waivers ban.

  • Bob McNally, president of the Rapidan Energy Group and former energy adviser to President George W. Bush, writes in The Financial Times ($) that Trump’s move on Iran is a risky bet the president made that he can enlist Saudi Arabia’s help in ensuring enough production keeps oil prices — and by translation, Americans’ pump prices — in check.

Go deeper

Tech scrambles to derail inauguration threats

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies are sharing more information with law enforcement in a frantic effort to prevent violence around the inauguration, after the government was caught flat-footed by the Capitol siege.

Between the lines: Tech knows it will be held accountable for any further violence that turns out to have been planned online if it doesn't act to stop it.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Uganda's election: Museveni declared winner, Wine claims fraud

Wine rejected the official results of the election. Photo: Sumy Sadruni/AFP via Getty

Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of a sixth presidential term on Saturday, with official results giving him 59% to 35% for Bobi Wine, the singer-turned-opposition leader.

Why it matters: This announcement was predictable, as the election was neither free nor fair and Museveni had no intention of surrendering power after 35 years. But Wine — who posed a strong challenged to Museveni, particularly in urban areas, and was beaten and arrested during the campaign — has said he will present evidence of fraud. The big question is whether he will mobilize mass resistance in the streets.

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”