According to former DHS chief of staff Miles Taylor, the president described Puerto Rico as "dirty."

Por Alma Sacasa
Agosto 20, 2020

On Wednesday, former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor told MSNBC that Donald Trump asked him and other officials whether the United States could somehow trade Greenland for Puerto Rico because, according to Taylor, Trump said, "Puerto Rico was dirty and the people were poor."

Taylor claims the exchange happened in August 2018 before DHS officials went on a disaster recovery trip to Puerto Rico, which had been hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. "I did not take it as a joke," Taylor said in the interview. "The president expressed deep animus towards the Puerto Rican people behind the scenes. These are people who are recovering from the worst disaster we've seen in our lifetimes, and he is their president. He should be standing by them, not trying to sell them off to a foreign country."

However, Peter Brown, the White House special representative for Puerto Rico disaster recovery, defended Trump, and said he has "never heard the president say anything of that sort." He also added that all of his interactions with Trump have indicated that the president "has been supportive of the unprecedented relief and recovery effort the federal government has launched for Puerto Rico." Brown added that Trump "has been very supportive of the work of big federal agencies such as FEMA and HUD," and the agencies that "we normally don't think about during disaster recovery."

Brown, who is currently visiting the island, said his priorities include strengthening the island's "foundational infrastructures" to ensure reliable electricity access, clean water, and resilient communications towers. He is also working on reviving the island's pharmaceutical industry after the COVID-19 pandemic.