President Donald Trump told senior officials that he wants to cut off aid set aside for hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico, Axios reports.
White House officials told Republican leaders in Congress that Trump wants to end relief funding for the island, citing without evidence, that officials in Puerto Rico are using the disaster relief funds to pay off their debt, the outlet reported.
Axios notes that Trump won't be able to claw back the money already set aside for relief efforts by Congress but adds that he may refuse to sign spending bills that include money for hurricane recovery on the island in the future.
Trump's anger apparently stemmed from misreading a Wall Street Journal article in October that said, "Puerto Rico bond prices soared ... after the federal oversight board that runs the U.S. territory’s finances released a revised fiscal plan that raises expectations for disaster funding and economic growth."
“Sources with direct knowledge told me Trump concluded — without evidence — that Puerto Rico's government was scamming federal disaster funds to pay down its debt,” Axios reported.
Trump previously attacked Puerto Rican officials with no evidence:
In October, Trump falsely claimed on Twitter that the island's "inept politicians are trying to use the massive and ridiculously high amounts of hurricane/disaster funding to pay off other obligations."
A source explained to Axios that “Trump misinterpreted the Journal article, concluding falsely that the Puerto Rican government was using disaster relief funds to pay down debt.”
Another source added, "He's always been pissed off by Puerto Rico.”
Democrats condemn move:
"It is unconscionable that President Trump reportedly wants to end federal disaster funding for Puerto Rico as it continues to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria. In New York, we proudly stand with Puerto Rico as we always have before," wrote New York Governor and potential 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Cuomo.