Trump thanks Saudi Arabia for falling oil prices: ‘Let’s go lower’

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE on Wednesday morning thanked Saudi Arabia for the falling price of oil, cheering the drop and urging, "Let's go lower!" 

"Oil prices getting lower," Trump tweeted. "Great! Like a big Tax Cut for America and the World. Enjoy! $54, was just $82. Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!" 

Trump’s tweet compared two different oil price benchmarks, however. West Texas Intermediate crude oil, a domestic United States benchmark, closed Tuesday in trading at about $54. Brent crude, an international benchmark, was at $82 as recent as October. Brent has recently traded at an about $11 premium to West Texas Intermediate.


The tweet comes a day after Trump released a statement reaffirming close ties with Saudi Arabia despite a CIA report that found Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman likely ordered the assassination of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. 

"Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!" Trump said in the statement, adding that "we may never know" who was responsible.

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and critic of the government in Riyadh, was killed after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. After changing its official account multiple times, the Saudi government acknowledged he was murdered by a team of agents who reportedly dismembered his body, which still has not been found.   

Trump indicated to reporters Tuesday that one of the primary reasons he values the U.S.-Saudi relationship is a fear that sanctions or other punishments against the Islamic kingdom could cause oil price spikes, since it is the No. 3 oil producer in the world, behind the U.S. and Russia.

“If you want to see oil prices go to $150 a barrel ... all you have to do is break up our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” he said before leaving Washington for his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

Trump repeatedly pressured Saudi Arabia in the run-up to the midterm elections to boost oil production to keep prices down, particularly since U.S. sanctions against Iran kicked in Nov. 4, which he had feared would raise prices.

Trump in the statement indicated he believes that close financial and diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia should override any concerns about Crown Prince Mohammed's alleged involvement in the plot. 
"The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!" the president said.

Lawmakers throughout the day on Tuesday pushed back on Trump's unequivocal support for Saudi Arabia.

“The President indicates that Saudi Arabia is the lesser two evils compared to Iran and so the U.S. won’t punish Saudi Arabia for the brutal killing and dismemberment of a dissident journalist in their consulate. I disagree,” Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump creates new headaches for GOP with top intelligence pick Congress set for clash over surveillance reforms Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony MORE (R-Ky.), who has sided with Trump numerous times on foreign policy issues, wrote on Twitter.

“I’m pretty sure this statement is Saudi Arabia First, not America First," he added.

Trump’s tweet also came the day before Thanksgiving. The days surrounding Thanksgiving are the busiest days for long-distance car travel in the year, with AAA forecasting that 54.3 million Americans will drive 50 miles or more from home, the most since 2005.

The national average price of gasoline was $2.62 per gallon Monday, AAA said, the highest since 2014.

Timothy Cama contributed to this report, which was updated at 9:43 a.m.