Saudi claim that Biden asked to delay oil cuts by one month raises election influence concerns

Former President Donald Trump was impeached ahead of the 2020 general election for his phone conversation with the Ukrainian president about then-presidential candidate Joe Biden's son Hunter's business dealings in Ukraine.

The government of Saudi Arabia released an official statement saying that the Biden administration asked them to delay their planned oil production cuts for one month, which raises questions of a possible attempt to influence the 2022 midterm elections.

In the statement Thursday, Saudia Arabia said, "the Government of the Kingdom clarified through its continuous consultation with the US Administration that all economic analyses indicate that postponing the OPEC+ decision for a month, according to what has been suggested, would have had negative economic consequences." 

The Saudi statement prompted Wisconsin Republican Rep. Tom Tiffany to request that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi open a "formal investigation" into the situation, arguing that it was an "attempt to coordinate with a foreign government to influence the U.S. election" if the request did indeed occur.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby responded to the Saudi statement but didn't confirm or deny that the request to delay the production cut was made.

"The Saudi Foreign Ministry can try to spin or deflect, but the facts are simple," he said. "In recent weeks, the Saudis conveyed to us — privately and publicly — their intention to reduce oil production, which they knew would increase Russian revenues and blunt the effectiveness of sanctions."

President Biden has said he is rethinking the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia after the decision to cut oil production.

"I am in the process, when the House and Senate comes back, there's going to be some consequences for what they've done with Russia," Biden said.

Some Democrats in Congress have suggested ways to respond to the Saudi decision, including removing missile defense systems from Saudi Arabia and U.S. troops from the United Arab Emirates.

Former President Donald Trump was impeached in December 2019 for his phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about then-presidential candidate Joe Biden's son Hunter's business dealings in Ukraine.

"There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution, and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great," Trump said during the call, according to the transcript.

At the time, Democrats argued that he had solicited assistance from a foreign government to influence the 2020 presidential election. Trump was ultimately acquitted in the Senate.

Tiffany said in his letter to Pelosi that the White House should "release the transcript of any calls between President Biden, Vice President Harris, any cabinet official or other senior administration official and representatives of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia regarding oil production that took place in the last 30 days."