Hours after President Donald Trump was scheduled to have lunch with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday, the White House issued an unusual press release. Trump congratulated Exxon Mobil -- the company Tillerson formerly led -- on its announcement that it would be spending $20 billion on expanded investments in 11 Gulf Coast projects. The oil and gas giant claims the move will create 45,000 jobs.As if the close ties between the White House and Exxon weren't clear enough, one part of the White House statement contains language that is nearly identical to language in Exxon's press release.
Feb. 24, 201707:39
To be sure, there's some precedent for this sort of thing. Rachel had a report recently on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who, during his tenure as Oklahoma's attorney general, copied wording from energy companies, pasted the text onto his letterhead, and presented the industry's work as his own.But yesterday took the problem to the next level -- bringing it directly into the White House.The fact that the White House is plagiarizing anyone is a reminder that Team Trump is managing to screw up big and small things on a nearly daily basis, but in this story, it's far more alarming that the West Wing's communications office is literally on the same page as ExxonMobil.Indeed, in this case, the plagiarized statement was celebrating ExxonMobil investment plans for Gulf Coast refinery plants. Team Trump, apparently playing the role of a corporate p.r. department, decided without explanation to issue a statement mirroring the oil giant's press release -- and the president himself tweeted the news. (Trump actually published four separate tweets about this.)Circling back to a point from several weeks ago, in his inaugural address, Donald Trump declared that, effective immediately, he was transferring power to "you, the people." The new president added, "For too long, a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.... That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment, it belongs to you."What we didn't fully appreciate at the time is that Trump may have been talking to oil industry lobbyists.