(CNN) - President Donald Trump considered the idea of selling Puerto Rico in 2017 after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria, the former acting Secretary of Homeland Security told The New York Times in an interview published on Friday.
"The president's initial ideas were more like a businessman," Elaine Duke, who was acting DHS secretary when the hurricane hit the island in September 2017, told the Times.
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“'Can we outsource electricity? Can we sell the island? You know, or get rid of that asset? '”Trump said, according to Duke in the newspaper interview. "(She said the idea of selling Puerto Rico was never seriously considered or discussed after Trump raised it)," the newspaper reported.
Trump has had a tense history with U.S. territory since Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria. Nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the storm and the aftermath, including widespread power outages.
Trump previously pointed out to Puerto Rican officials for his management of the billions in aid funds his administration has appropriated for storm recovery, accusing island leaders of spending some of that money for reasons other than cleanup. of the hurricane. In November 2018, White House officials told congressional leaders and appropriators that the president did not want additional aid funds to be sent to the island.
Trump has repeatedly denied any failure of his administration after the storm. Instead, the president sought praise for his handling of Hurricane Maria, calling it "an incredible and unrecognized success" last year.
CNN's Maegan Vázquez, Sarah Westwood and Elizabeth Landers contributed to this report.
Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico