President Donald Trump inquired about the possibility of “selling” Puerto Rico after the island was pummeled by Hurricane Maria, his one-time head of homeland security told The New York Times.
Elaine Duke, former acting secretary of homeland security, said that Trump approached the situation of a devastated Puerto Rico as a businessman would and asked about the option of “divesting” or “selling” the U.S. territory as it struggled in the aftermath of the 2017 hurricane. She was taken aback by that response, she told the Times.
“The president’s initial ideas were more of as a businessman,” Duke recalled. “Can we outsource the electricity? Can we sell the island … or divest of that asset?”
Trump railed against Puerto Rican officials at the time over the amount of money needed to rebuild after Maria struck — and complained that the island had thrown the U.S. budget “out of whack.” His administration was sharply criticized for its slow and inadequate response after the catastrophe, which ultimately killed some 3,000 people. Trump called San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz “nasty” after she criticized his administration’s response.
As another hurricane, Dorian, bore down on the island “as usual” two years later, Trump complained in a tweet, the president railed at Puerto Ricans politicians for being ungrateful.
Duke said the Puerto Rico divestment issue was never seriously discussed after Trump raised the idea.
In a related consideration in 2019, Trump revealed that he mulled a “large” American “real estate deal” to purchase the autonomous Danish territory of Greenland, home to 56,000 people. Denmark might be up for it, he argued, because it’s “losing almost $700 million a year carrying” Greenland.
The Danes and Greenland residents were appalled. Officials blasted the idea as “ridiculous” and the “final proof” that Trump had “gone mad.”
Duke, a life-long Republican, also criticized Trump’s embrace of “hate-filled, angry and divisive” language. She said Trump’s paranoia about an imagined “deep state” blocked him from seeking valuable counsel from a variety of experts in the government.
Read the entire Times article here.
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