AP Fact Check: Trump Misstates Hurricane Aid for Puerto Rico - NBC New York
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AP Fact Check: Trump Misstates Hurricane Aid for Puerto Rico

He asserts the territory had already received $91 billion in aid, which is flat wrong

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    AP Fact Check: Trump Misstates Hurricane Aid for Puerto Rico
    Carlos Giusti/AP (File)
    FILE - In this May 16, 2018 file photo, deteriorated U.S. and Puerto Rico flags fly on a roof eight months after Hurricane Maria in the Barrio Jacana Piedra Blanca area of Yabucoa, a town where power was knocked out by the storm.

    President Donald Trump is distorting reality when it comes to disaster aid for hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico.

    In a flurry of angry tweets Tuesday, he argues the U.S. territory has gotten more than its fair share of money to rebuild after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September 2017.

    He asserts the territory had already received $91 billion in aid, which is flat wrong, and readers of his tweets would not know from them that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.

    TRUMP: "Puerto Rico got 91 Billion Dollars for the hurricane, more money than has ever been gotten for a hurricane before."

    Watch: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Full Opening Statement at House Hearing on Reparations

    [NATL] Watch: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Full Opening Statement at House Hearing on Reparations

    Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of “The Case for Reparations,” testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee during a hearing on whether the United States should consider compensation for the descendants of slaves. 

    He delivered a rebuttal to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's comments that "no one currently alive was responsible for that," which Coates called a "strange theory of governance." 

    "Well into this century the United States was still paying out pensions to the heirs of civil war soldiers," he said. "We honor treaties that date back some 200 years despite no one being alive who signed those treaties. Many of us would love to be taxed for the things we are solely and individually responsible for. But we are American citizens and this bound to a collective enterprise that extends beyond our individual and personal reach."

    (Published Wednesday, June 19, 2019)

    HOGAN GIDLEY, White House spokesman: "The fact is, they have received more money than any state or territory in history for a rebuild," Gidley said in an interview Tuesday with MSNBC.

    THE FACTS: The money Puerto Rico has received for hurricane relief is nowhere close to $91 billion. Nor is the amount provided greater than for any other hurricane that has struck the U.S.

    According to the White House, Trump's $91 billion estimate includes about $50 billion in expected future disaster disbursements that could span decades, along with $41 billion already approved. But actual aid to Puerto Rico has flowed more slowly from federal coffers, about $11 billion so far.

    Even if the $91 billion figure eventually comes to fruition, it would not be the most ever provided for hurricane rebuilding efforts. Hurricane Katrina, which hit Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states in 2005, has cost the U.S government more than $120 billion.

    TRUMP: "The pols are grossly incompetent, spend the money foolishly or corruptly, & only take from USA," he tweeted Tuesday.

    THE FACTS: Trump appears to suggest Puerto Rico is not part of the U.S. as he criticizes its territorial government for taking "from USA." He does not criticize other Americans for taking "from USA."

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    (Published Wednesday, June 19, 2019)

    Gidley, speaking on MSNBC, called the notion that Trump was referring to Puerto Ricans as noncitizens "absolutely ridiculous." But moments later he referred to Puerto Rico as "that country." When pressed about his wording, Gidley said it was a mistake and he meant to say "territory."

    Puerto Ricans are Americans.