Trump reportedly wants to stop giving Puerto Rico hurricane relief funds because of theory about debt repayment

Kelly McLaughlin
  • President Donald Trump claimed without evidence that Puerto Rico was using federal funding meant to go towards Hurricane Maria recovery to pay off debt.

  • He reportedly told White House officials that he wants stop giving Puerto Rico federal funding for hurricane recovery.

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

According to the report, White House officials told congressional leadership that Trump claimed without evidence that Puerto Rico's government is using the disaster relief money to pay off debt.

Trump can't take disaster funds back that he's already given to Puerto Rico or set aside by Congress, but he reportedly could refuse to sign any future spending bills, according to Axios.

The report comes after a Wall Street Journal article said Puerto Rico bond prices had soared "after the federal oversight board that runs the US territory's finances released a revised fiscal plan that raises expectations for disaster funding and economic growth."

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Trump was reportedly angry about the October article, and developed a conspiracy theory that disaster relief funds were paying off debt in Puerto Rico.

Last month, Trump falsely claimed in a tweet that Puerto Rico's "inept politicians are trying to use the massive and ridiculously high amounts of hurricane/disaster funding to pay off other obligations."

At the same time, White House officials told Congress that Trump "doesn't want to include additional Puerto Rico funding in further spending bills," a congressional leadership aide told Axios.

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

Other sources said Trump misinterpreted the Wall Street Journal article and that he told top officials he wanted to stop setting aside funds for Puerto Rico’s hurricane relief.