President Joe Biden is "frustrated" by big oil CEOs "bragging" about profits when fuel prices are soaring for ordinary Americans, the White House said Tuesday.
A painful hike in the cost of gasoline is spearheading an overall inflation problem and hitting Biden's popularity ratings.
The White House says that oil companies may be illegally profiteering and has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate.
In strong comments to reporters, Press Secretary Jen Psaki questioned why gasoline prices were so high in filling stations when crude oil is trading sharply lower.
"I will say, yes, we're frustrated. We're frustrated because you've seen a decrease in oil prices. You've not seen a decrease in gas" prices, she said. "It doesn't take an economist -- it doesn't take an oil market expert to recognize that. That doesn't sound, look or smell right."
"We see oil company CEOs bragging about the profits they make when gas company prices go up," Psaki said. "This is a real impact on the American people. It is incredibly frustrating. That's why the president is so focused on it."
Last week, Biden took the unusual measure of tapping US strategic oil reserves to pump additional supplies into the market. This was done in coordination with other major consumer countries such as China and India.
Biden's attempt to calm the fuel markets has had little effect so far. However, news of the potentially dangerous new Omicron Covid-19 variant has sent crude oil prices sharply down.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)