Trump made the claim in an appearance on CNBC five months before that year’s election. Commenting on the price of oil at the time, the bigoted billionaire said he believed Saudi Arabia was artificially suppressing the value so that the American people would think the economy was doing well under Obama.
“I think Saudi Arabia is doing Obama a big fat favor. I think he asked for that favor and prices are coming down,” Trump said in the since-overlooked interview.
He went on to suggest that the relationship was transactional. “If Obama got elected, you’re going to see something with oil like you’ve never seen before, it will go through the roof. The favor will be repaid many times over,” Trump said.
Of course, this is not what happened ― a fact that’s unsurprising given Trump’s record of misjudging the economy and distorting the truth.
Charts from oilprice.com show that the price of a barrel of oil actually began to rise the month after Trump made his assertion ― denying Obama any boost he might have gotten from a “deal” with the Saudis. The price only began to significantly fall again over a year after the election, in July 2014.
Meanwhile, Obama has become increasingly unpopular with Saudi officials, in large part because of the way he championed last year’s nuclear accord with Iran and fostered unprecedented paranoia among the Kingdom’s elites. Either Obama double-crossed the Saudis for his own nefarious ends, or this entire theory is rubbish. Or maybe, we don’t even know what’s going on!
Trump’s claim is an early example of the general worldview he has promoted during this year’s election: Foreigners (especially Muslims) are trying to wreak havoc on America; Obama and others of suspect patriotism are their willing enablers; and Trump himself is the only observer clever enough to see through it all.
The assertions are also interesting because of Trump’s recent suggestions that the 2016 election might be rigged against him. If the system is as undemocratic as the nominee suggests, it’s unclear why Obama would have even needed Saudi help to lull voters into a sense of security and win their votes.
The comments offer a striking example of Trump’s deception when it comes to his own relationships with foreign actors, including the increasingly controversial nation of Saudi Arabia. Despite peddling the discredited theory that the U.S. ally was behind the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Trump has done business in the kingdom and with its royal family.
Trump’s 2016 run actually seems to have bigger issues with foreign influence than Obama’s did in 2012. In running his campaign, the nominee has relied on individuals linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and echoed Moscow’s depiction of the state of the world. His Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, believes Putin is trying to undermine her campaign and help Trump.
Trump says any allegations of a relationship are baseless, presenting himself as different from American politicians, like Obama or Clinton, who might give foreigners favors. But he frequently speaks of foreign policy positions friendly to Moscow ― suggesting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad may be an ally against the self-styled Islamic State and that the Ukraine conflict, which has killed thousands, is a product of Obama administration weakness rather than Russian intervention.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we got along with Russia?” Trump said last month.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.