Trump reportedly wants to stop giving Puerto Rico hurricane relief funds because he thinks, without evidence, that the government is using it to pay off its debt

  • President Donald Trump has reportedly told White House officials that he wants to stop giving Puerto Rico federal funding for hurricane recovery.
  • According to the news website Axios, his reasoning included a baseless claim that the US territory was using federal funding meant to go toward recovery from Hurricane Maria to pay off debt.

President Donald Trump wants stop giving Puerto Rico federal funding for Hurricane Maria recovery, according to a report from the news website Axios.

According to the report, White House officials have told congressional leadership of Trump’s intentions and, as reasoning, mentioned a baseless claim that Puerto Rico’s government was using the disaster relief money to pay off debt.

Trump can’t reclaim disaster funds already distributed to Puerto Rico or set aside by Congress, but he could refuse to sign future spending bills, as Axios noted.

A Wall Street Journal article in October said Puerto Rico bond prices soared after the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, a federal US body that runs Puerto Rico’s finances, raised its expectations for disaster funding and economic growth.

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Trump was reportedly angry about the article, which one source told Axios he misinterpreted, and developed a conspiracy theory that disaster relief funds were paying off debt in Puerto Rico. He publicly made the claim in a tweet last month.

A congressional leadership aide told Axios that White House officials had told Congress that Trump “doesn’t want to include additional Puerto Rico funding in further spending bills.”

“He was unhappy with what he believed was mismanagement of money,” the aide said.