Donald Trump Suggested The United States Sell Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria Struck, Report Claims
Donald Trump suggested that the United States sell the island of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, the president’s former secretary of Homeland Security claimed in a new interview.
Trump was widely criticized for his response to the hurricane, which many saw as inadequate and insensitive to the devastation across the island. A new report sheds even more light on Trump’s alleged disinterest in the island’s recovery, with former Homeland Security secretary Elaine Duke saying Trump suggested that the country might “divest” from the island by selling it outright.
Duke told The New York Times that instead of seeing himself as a president trying to find a way to restore electricity and water to the people living in Puerto Rico, Trump looked at the situation in the terms of a business transaction he could walk away from.
“The president’s initial ideas were more of as a businessman, you know,” she said. “Can we outsource the electricity? Can we…sell the island? You know, or divest of that asset?”
It was not clear to whom Trump would consider selling the island, but Duke said that Trump did not follow through on the idea, and it was never taken seriously or brought up again after his initial suggestion. Duke added that she tried to convince Trump to take the situation more seriously and give more proper aid to the people of Puerto Rico, but was derided by other members of the cabinet.
That included Mick Mulvaney, then serving as Trump’s budget director, who she recalled as pushing back strongly against the idea of issuing an emergency declaration.
“Quit being so emotional, Elaine, it’s not about the people, it’s about the money,” Duke recalled Mulvaney saying to her, an allegation that Mulvaney denied to the New York Times.
Duke is the latest former cabinet member to speak out against Trump after leaving his administration, in addition to former national security adviser John Bolton, whose tell-all book published last month claimed that Trump improperly pressed foreign leaders to help with his re-election chances. Duke criticized Trump’s temperament and approach, saying that he did not appear to be interested in policy but instead wanted only to be “hate-filled, angry and divisive.”
The claim that Trump brought up the idea of selling Puerto Rico occurred before he openly considered purchasing the island of Greenland. Trump revisited the idea of building a presence in Greenland earlier this year, proposing opening an American consulate on the island.