Duke was already feeling frustrated before the hurricane even caused any devastation as she argued that there should be an emergency declaration before landfall. “Quit being so emotional, Elaine, it’s not about the people, it’s about the money,” Duke claims that Mick Mulvaney, who was then the president’s budget director, said. Mulvaney, who went on to become acting chief of staff , vehemently denies that was the case. But Duke said she got the biggest shock during the response when she heard Trump raising the possibility of getting rid of Puerto Rico entirely. “The president’s initial ideas were more of as a businessman, you know,” she said. “Can we outsource the electricity? Can we can we sell the island? You know, or divest of that asset?” The idea wasn’t ever seriously considered.
This wasn’t the first time that there were reports that Trump had raised the possibility of getting rid of Puerto Rico, albeit jokingly. Last year, the New York Times reported that a former official said Trump had joked about trading Puerto Rico for Greenland sometime in 2018.