A former administration official’s claim that President Donald Trump called Puerto Rico “dirty” and asked if he could trade it for Greenland drew blistering responses from Joe Biden and Florida Democrats.
Wednesday night, Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff for Department of Homeland Security, told MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson that he witnessed Trump calling Puerto Rico dirty and saying he was interested in selling it, or swapping the island territory and its 3.5 million American residents for Greenland, a territory of Denmark.
Since Taylor joined the “Never Trump” alliance of Republicans and former Trump officials speaking out against Trump, he, his motives, and his credibility have been under strong attack by the White House and Trump’s reelection campaign. Trump claimed he never met Taylor — which Taylor has repeatedly disputed — and then called Taylor, “a lowlife.”
Biden’s campaign seized on the Taylor interview as more evidence that Trump “does not care about the people of Puerto Rico.”
“He turned his back on Puerto Ricans, but I promise you this: I never will,” Joe Biden tweeted.
That was joined by a number of statements of outrage from Florida Democrats, many in posts on Twitter.
U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, who is Puerto Rican and whose Florida’s 9th Congressional District is the center of Florida’s Puerto Rican community, tweeted: “It‘s obvious that Pres Trump has been trying to sell out #PuertoRico since Day 1, but I never believed it to be literally. That is until today. We lost 3K Americans there due to his (disastrous) #HurricaneMaria response. End the nightmare.”
U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, whose Florida’s 7th Congressional District also has large Puerto Rican communities, tweeted: “I condemn the President’s ignorant and disrespectful comments toward Puerto Ricans, who have made countless contributions to our country in times of war and peace. As long as I’m in Congress, I will continue to fight for fair and dignified treatment for the island.”
Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez tweeted: “No Americans, including our fellow citizens in #PuertoRico, deserves the base insults of Trump, suggesting they can be traded off.”
In the interview Wednesday, Taylor told Jackson he recalled the key conversation occurred during a trip to Puerto Rico in August 2108. The administration continued to struggle with recovery efforts from the previous year’s devastating Hurricane Maria, and was under growing criticism by Puerto Ricans and the Puerto Rican government. Trump already had been floating his idea of purchasing Greenland from Denmark.
“He told us not only did he want to purchase Greenland, he asked us if we could sell Puerto Rico. Could we swap Puerto Rico for Greenland? Because in his words, Puerto Rico is dirty and the residents are poor,” Taylor said.
When Jackson asked if Trump had been joking, Taylor responded, “I did not take it as a joke.
“The President expressed deep animus towards the Puerto Rican people behind the scenes,” Taylor said.