Senate Democrats launch probe into Trump's alleged quid-pro-quo meeting with Big Oil

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I, Senate Committee on the Budget chairman, announced an investigation Thursday into an alleged quid-pro-quo meeting between former President Donald Trump and oil executives. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

May 24 (UPI) -- Senate Democrats have launched an inquiry into allegations that former President Donald Trump promised oil executives to roll back fossil fuel regulations if re-elected on the condition that they donate $1 billion to his 2024 campaign.

The inquiry was launchd Thursday when letters were sent by Senate Committee on the Budget Chairman Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Senate Committee on Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-ore., to the heads of nine oil and gas companies and their trade associations seeking information and documents related to the widely reported meeting.

"Time and time again, both Mr. Trump and the U.S. oil and gas industry have proved they are willing to sell out Americans to pad their own pockets," Whitehouse and Wyden wrote to the executives in the letters.

The fundraiser took place April 11 at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., according to The New York Times and Politico, with The Washington Post being the first to report on the meeting earlier this month.

Some 20 people, including executives from ExxonMobil and oil lobbyist the American Petroleum Institute, were present for what was called an"energy roundtable" hosted by oil and gas business magnate Harold Hamm, The Times report.

Over dinner, Trump is reported to have promised the industry executives to roll back President Joe Biden's pollution control and green energy agenda if re-elected to the White House while asking that they collectively donate the massive amount of money to his campaign.

The committees in their letters to the executives asked for it to hand over names of any of its officials or employees who were at the meeting, materials and communications related to it, descriptions of policy proposals discussed and descriptions of discussions of campaign contributions.

They are also seeking any recordings of the event and copies of any draft executive orders, as it has been reported that the oil and gas industry has drafted executive orders to roll back environmental policies to be signed by Trump if elected.

"As Mr. Trump funnels campaign money into his businesses and uses it as a slush fund to pay his legal fees, Big Oil has been lobbying aggressively to protect and expand its profits at the expense of the American taxpayer," Whitehouse and Wyden wrote to the executives in the letters.

"And now, emboldened by impunity, Mr. Trump and Big Oil are flaunting their indifference to U.S. citizens' economic well-being for all to see, conferring on how to trade campaign cash for policy changes. Such potential abuses must be scrutinized."

It is the second congressional investigation into Trump's meeting. On May 14, Rep. Jamie Raskin, ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, similarly sent letters to the nine oil and gas companies.

The letters on Thursday were sent to the American Petroleum Institute, Cheniere Energy, Chesapeake Energy, Chevron, Continental Resources, EQT Corporation, ExxonMobil, Occidental Petroleum and Venture Global LNG.