ExxonMobil Mired in Controversy after Monday’s Trump Rally

by Natasha Lasky, ODP Contributing Writer

At a  rally in Prescott, AZ, on Monday, President Donald Trump described a theoretical fundraising call he had with the CEO of ExxonMobil, in which he accepted a bribe from the oil giant. 

Trump said:

“I call the head of Exxon. I don’t know, you know, ‘How are you doing? How’s energy coming? When are you doing the exploration? Oh, you need a couple of permits?’ I say, ‘You know, I’d love [for] you to send me $25 million for the campaign.’ ‘Absolutely sir, why didn’t you ask? Would you like some more?’”

Later that day, ExxonMobil tweeted: “We are aware of the President’s statement regarding a hypothetical call with our CEO, and just so we’re all clear, it never happened.”

Trump’s statement seemed to be a joke —  he admitted that this hypothetical call would be illegal, yet he mentioned that if he did so he would be the greatest fundraiser in U.S. history.

Why This Matters: This is yet another controversy ExxonMobil has had to field this month — a few weeks ago Bloomberg released leaked internal documents revealing the corporation had planned to expand fossil fuel production, calculated how much this would increase their carbon dioxide emissions, and failed to disclose those estimates to investors.

These documents, combined with President Trump’s joking suggestion that he has accepted bribes from the corporation, are especially damning considering ExxonMobil’s political position. There’s a long history between the Trump administration and ExxonMobil: Trump picked chief executive Rex Tillerson as his first Secretary of State after the corporation helped bankroll his inauguration and the company’s current CEO was given a priority meeting with the President to discuss a potential coronavirus government bailout.

 

Exxon’s Climate Dishonesty: Exxon has not only consistently financially backed Republican politicians, but also has undermined the peer-reviewed work of scientists. In a piece by Naomi Oreskes and Geoffrey Supran for The Guardian, the two social scientists denounced the corporation for attempting to silence their critiques by commissioning and paying for a non-peer-reviewed report. They write:

“These Big Tobacco-style tactics – doubt-mongering, character assassination, intellectual hitjobs, and undisclosed conflicts of interest – are precisely the sort of product-defense maneuvers that ExxonMobil perfected while attacking climate science and climate scientists. The only difference now is that they are coming after the social sciences, too.”

Though Exxon’s attempted to smear Oreskes and Supran’s research, the company continues to struggle with their plummeting market value and the growing popularity of the Green New Deal alongside these controversies. But should Trump get re-elected in November, ExxonMobil could continue to influence national politics and mislead the public without consequence.

This comes after widespread reporting that the oil behemoth knew about the dangers of climate change for over three decades but hid the truth from the American public and spearheaded an organized campaign to sow climate denial.

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