An ex-Trump aide claims the president once asked his aides if the U.S. could sell Puerto Rico because it was "dirty" and inhabited by "poor people."
Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security official, made the allegation during a Wednesday interview with MSNBC's Hallie Jackson. The anchor asked Taylor, who is endorsing Joe Biden in the 2020 election, if he could recall the most "disturbing" remarks the president made behind closed doors. Taylor said he "could probably go on for days about that," but mentioned specific question Trump had posed during the administration's Hurricane Maria relief efforts.
"There was a time when, of course, we were spending a lot of our days down in Puerto Rico, after the hurricanes wreaked devastation ..." Taylor said. "There was a trip that we made down there in August of 2018, and I remember before we went, the president said something—and your viewers are going to be somewhat familiar with this, the president talked before about wanting to purchase Greenland. But one time before we went down, he told us not only did he want to purchase Greenland, he actually said he wanted to see if we could sell Puerto Rico; could we swap Puerto Rico for Greenland because, in his words, Puerto Rico was dirty and the people were poor."
Taylor said he didn't take the remark as a joke, because the president had often expressed "deep animus" toward Puerto Rico.
"These are Americans, Hallie," he added. "We don't talk about our fellow Americans that way."
White House spokesperson Judd Deere dismissed Taylor's claims in an email to Business Insider.
"[Talyor is] another creature of the D.C. Swamp who never understood the importance of the President's agenda or why the American people elected him and clearly just wants to cash-in," Deere wrote. "President Trump has an unprecedented number of accomplishments in spite of government bureaucrats who are only out for themselves, not the forgotten men and women of this country."
Shortly after Taylor's interview, the Biden-Harris campaign also released a statement on Trump's "mistreatment and attacks on Puerto Rico."
Twitter users also weighed in:
Elaine C. Duke, a former acting secretary of Homeland Security, also claims Trump proposed trading Puerto Rico for Greenland in 2018, and framed the idea as a business move.
"The president’s initial ideas were more of as a businessman, you know," Duke told the New York Times. "Can we outsource the electricity? Can we can we sell the island? You know, or divest of that asset?"
POTUS has been very vocal about his desire to purchase Greenland from Denmark, saying it would be "a large real estate deal" that could save Denmark $700 million a year. Danish officials, however, have made it clear the island is not for sale.