NATIONWIDE — A former senior official in Donald Trump’s administration says the president not only expressed interest in selling Puerto Rico but also spoke with contempt about its residents after hurricanes devastated the U.S. territory in 2017.
In an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday, Miles Taylor, who served as chief of staff under former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, confirmed a New York Times story last month that said Trump asked about selling Puerto Rico. Taylor said the president inquired to aides about trading the islands for Greenland.
“Not only did he want to purchase Greenland, he actually said he wanted to see if we could sell Puerto Rico,” Taylor said. “Could we swap Puerto Rico for Greenland because, in his words, Puerto Rico was dirty and the people were poor?
“The president expressed deep animus towards the Puerto Rican people behind the scenes. These are people who were recovering from the worst disaster of their lifetimes. He is their president. He should be standing by them, not trying to sell them off to a foreign country.”
The Times reported the suggestion to sell Puerto Rico was never seriously pursued.
Taylor has been in the news this week after endorsing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in a video produced by the group Republican Voters Against Trump. In the video, Taylor says the behavior he witnessed from Trump “was terrifying.” He says the president had no interest in hearing about pressing national security threats and wanted to restart — and expand — his controversial family-separation policy at the border after it was shut down. Taylor also says Trump told the Federal Emergency Management Agency to stop giving money to people in California whose homes had burned in wildfires because voters in the state largely did not support him.
Taylor also said that when officials would tell Trump his demands were illegal or unfeasible, the president would cite “magical authorities.”
The former DHS official added that he and his colleagues in the Trump administration “fooled ourselves” in believing “the president’s misguided impulses could be ameliorated. We were proven decisively wrong.”
Since Taylor has gone public, Trump has called him a “lowlife” and a "DISGRUNTLED EMPLOYEE," and claimed he had never heard of him.
Taylor insisted Wednesday he’s not speaking out for fame.
“In Donald Trump’s Washington, in Donald Trump’s GOP, this is going to be bad for my pocketbook, bad for me professionally, bad for me personally,” he told MNBC. “So I’m not getting a whole lot out of this.”
Acting Homeland Security Security Chad Wolf said Taylor never expressed concerns about Trump’s policy when he worked for the agency. Taylor said that isn’t true — his colleagues knew his feelings about Trump and all but a few shared his views.