An investigation into the Trump administration’s delay in sending nearly $20 billion in hurricane relief to Puerto Rico showed officials in the White House purposely blocked funds from reaching the devastated U.S. territory and obstructed the investigation itself.
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General report, recovery funding for Puerto Rico, where nearly 3,000 people died after Hurricane Maria struck, was “unnecessarily delayed by bureaucratic obstacles.”
Trump-appointed Inspector General Rae Oliver Davis report said that the administration used stalling tactics to avoid the investigation. And according to the Washington Post, there are at least an additional dozen more watchdog reports that are not yet complete, due in part to unprecedented delays.
“Delays and denials of access and refusals to cooperate negatively affected the ability of the [Office of Inspector General] to conduct this review,” the report said.
The report goes on to say that HUD Secretary Ben Carson declined to be interviewed without a department lawyer. Regardless, the inspector’s office found that the administration used an unprecedented review policy which was never required before to prevent HUD from moving the allocated disaster relief forward.
Trump infamously tossed paper towels to survivors during a visit weeks after the 2017 storm that killed nearly 3,000 people. The then-mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, remembered the lack of care the former president showed while people were suffering. Cruz made the connection with how Trump was dealing with the pandemic in May of last year, telling Rolling Stone that “President Trump is an Incompetent in Chief.”
“While we were dying in Puerto Rico because of his incompetence after Hurricane Maria, Trump played golf. While people are dying of COVID-19 because of his incompetence, again, Trump plays golf,” Yulín said. “His lack of actions, his lack of respect for scientific data result in the death of thousands. People have died because President Trump is an Incompetent in Chief.”