2020-07-12 17:29:21 UTC
Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump considered the idea of selling Puerto
Rico in 2017 after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria, the former
acting Homeland Security secretary told The New York Times in an interview
"The President's initial ideas were more of as a businessman, you know," Elaine
Duke, who was serving as DHS' acting secretary when the hurricane hit the island
in September 2017, told the Times.
"'Can we outsource the electricity? Can we can we sell the island? You know, or
divest of that asset?'" Trump reportedly said, according to Duke in the
newspaper interview. "(She said the idea of selling Puerto Rico was never
seriously considered or discussed after Mr. Trump raised it.)," the paper
Trump has had a fraught history with the US territory since Puerto Rico was
devastated by Hurricane Maria. Nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the storm
and aftereffects, including widespread power outages.
Trump has previously taken aim at Puerto Rican officials for their management of
the billions in relief funds his administration has appropriated for storm
recovery, accusing the island's leaders of spending some of that money for
reasons other than hurricane clean-up. In November 2018, White House officials
told congressional leaders and appropriators that the President did not want any
additional relief funding sent to the island.
Trump has consistently denied any fault for his administration in the aftermath
of the storm. The President has instead sought praise for his handling of
Hurricane Maria, calling it "an incredible, unsung success" last year.