Remember how then President Donald Trump demonstrated his compassion for hurricane victims in Puerto Rico back in October 2017 by casually tossing them rolls of paper towels?
Today it’s been revealed that while he was performing at that photo op in a San Juan church Trump and senior members of his administration were deliberately erecting bureaucratic hurdles to prevent billions of dollars in federal aid from reaching the U.S. territory, which had been battered by hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Delivery of approximately $20 billion in hurricane relief was held up for months by policies instituted by Housing and Urban Development secretary Ben Carson. The aid was desperately needed by the islands residents, most of whom lost power and clean water as a result of the dual storm punch.
An inspector general’s report on the withholding of aid, obtained by the Washington Post, also says that Carson and another former HUD official refused to cooperate with the investigation while Trump was in office. The inspector general found that Trump’s White House set up “unprecedented procedural hurdles” to prevent federal dollars from flowing to Puerto Rico, but quickly approved similar disaster relief requests from Florida and Texas.
This is yet another federal watchdog investigation that was impeded by the Trump administration. Under President Joe Biden’s direction those inquiries were kick-started and have resulted in damaging disclosures about the actions of former transportation secretary Elaine Chao, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and former White House physician Ronny Jackson.
There are at least a dozen more investigations that have yet to be completed, including an ethics probe of former interior secretary Ryan Zinke and an audit of a $400 million contract to build the border wall that Trump directed to a prominent Republican donor whose North Dakota construction firm had no experience in such projects.