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 â€œdivestingâ€ or â€œsellingâ€ 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.
â€œThe presidentâ€™s initial ideas were more of as a businessman,â€ Duke recalled. â€œCan we outsource the electricity? Can we sell the island … or divest of that asset?â€
Trump railed against Puerto Rican officials at the time over the amount of money needed to rebuild after Maria struck â€” and complained that the island had thrown the U.S. budget â€œout of whack.â€ His administration was sharply criticized for its slow and inadequate responseÂ after the catastrophe, which ultimately killed some 3,000 people.Â Trump called San Juan Mayor Carmen YulÃn Cruz â€œnastyâ€ after she criticized his administrationâ€™s response.
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 â€œlargeâ€ American â€œreal estate dealâ€ to purchase the autonomous Danish territory of Greenland, home to 56,000 people. Denmark might be up for it, he argued, because itâ€™s â€œlosing almost $700 million a year carryingâ€ Greenland.
Duke, a life-long Republican, also criticized Trumpâ€™s embrace of â€œhate-filled, angry and divisiveâ€ language. She said Trumpâ€™s paranoia about an imagined â€œdeep stateâ€ blocked him from seeking valuable counsel from a variety of experts in the government.
Read the entire Times article here.Â
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