Former acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said President Donald Trump wanted to sell Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in an interview with The New York Times.
Duke, a lifelong Republican who served as the DHS head for four months early in Trump’s presidency, said she was “especially taken aback” when Trump responded to the disaster by raising the possibility of “selling” or “divesting” from the island.
“The president’s initial ideas were more of as a businessman, you know,” she recalled. “Can we outsource the electricity? Can we can we sell the island? You know, or divest of that asset?”
“She said the idea of selling Puerto Rico was never seriously considered or discussed after Mr. Trump raised it,” the report added.
Admin clashed over Puerto Rico:
Duke said in the interview that she pressed for an emergency declaration before Maria hit the island but Mick Mulvaney, then the president’s budget chief, pushed back.
“Quit being so emotional, Elaine, it’s not about the people, it’s about the money,” Mulvaney told her, she said.
Mulvaney denied the allegation.
“I never made such a remark. My experience with the acting director was that she rarely got anything right at D.H.S.,” he said. “At least she’s consistent.”
Duke said she was glad to see Trump later express concern about the hurricane but “grew frustrated” over his tweets attacking the island’s leaders.
“My thought process for both sides is all the negative energy is a distraction,” she said.
“There is a singular view that strength is mean,” she added, “that any kind of ability to collaborate, or not be angry is a weakness.”
Democrats slam report:
“You may try to sell the office you hold, your personal integrity and your soul, Mr. President — but I assure you Puerto Rico is not for sale!” tweeted Rep. Nydia Velasquez, a New York Democrat.
“Apparently Pres Trump considered “selling” #PuertoRico. This is absolutely disgraceful,” said Rep. Darren Soto, a Florida Democrat. “It also highlights precarious nature of Americans’ rights there and Island’s status. This wouldn’t happen if they were a state with 2 Senators & 4 Reps.”
“The stakes couldn't be higher this November. Time and time again, Donald Trump has failed the people of Puerto Rico,” said presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. “As President, I'll spur economic development on the island and expand access to health care.”