President Donald Trump in June reportedly told tribal leaders to simply drill for energy resources on their land, regardless of regulations that would prevent them from immediately doing so, Axios reported Sunday.
Citing one unnamed source in the room during a meeting between Trump and Native American tribal leaders in June, and another unnamed source who confirmed the account, Axios reported that the tribal leaders told Trump that “there were regulatory barriers preventing them from getting at their energy.”
The President reportedly replied: “But now it’s me. The government’s different now. Obama’s gone; and we’re doing things differently here.”
“So what I’m saying is, just do it,” Trump said, according to Axios.
The President reportedly continued after a pause, addressing a meeting attendee: “Chief, chief, what are they going to do? Once you get it out of the ground are they going to make you put it back in there? I mean, once it’s out of the ground it can’t go back in there. You’ve just got to do it. I’m telling you, chief, you’ve just got to do it.”
Video from a June 28 meeting between Trump and tribal leaders was posted by the Washington Post at the time. Reading from a statement, Trump echoed the themes that Axios’ unnamed sources described, though he did not say publicly, as he reportedly did privately, that they should break the law.
“Many of your lands have rich natural resources that stand to benefit your people immensely,” Trump said in the video, adding: “All you want is the freedom to use them, and that’s been the problem. It’s been very difficult, hasn’t it? It’ll be a lot easier now under the Trump administration.”
He added later: “Vast amounts of deposits of coal and other resources have, in a way, been taken out of your hands, and we’re going to have that changed, we’re going to put it back in your hands.”
The White House did not dispute the story, Axios noted. Members of the White House press team did not respond to TPM’s questions. One unnamed source who Axios said attended the meeting said the President’s remarks were “Trump speak,” and, according to Axios, that “what he meant by ‘just do it’ was he was pushing for removing burdensome regulations from the Obama era.”
Following Trump’s surprising 2016 electoral victory, Reuters reported that Native American advisers to the then-President-elect had advocated for easing regulations concerning drilling for energy resources on tribal land.