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Trump Sought To Halt California Wildfire Aid Over Hatred Of Jerry Brown, Ex-Aide Says

Topline

Former Department of Homeland Security Chief of Staff Miles Taylor alleged Monday that President Trump told FEMA in 2018 to withhold wildfire aid to California over his disdain for the state’s former Democratic governor and a belief that doing so wouldn’t provide him with any electoral benefit.

Key Facts

Taylor, who served in Trump’s DHS from 2017 to 2019, has endorsed Democrat Joe Biden and alleged Trump claimed “magical authorities” beyond the law, promised pardons to aids who broke the law and ordered a top DHS official for concurring with the intelligence community’s assessment Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

In a new ad for pro-Biden group Republican Voters Against Trump, Taylor claims Trump told DHS officials “I hate [then-California Gov.] Jerry Brown. He doesn’t support me,” and that Californians “don’t do anything for me.”

Taylor says Trump told FEMA to cut off individual assistance to California residents impacted by wildfires because “he was so rageful that people in the state of California didn’t support him” and “politically, it wasn’t a base for him.”

“The President was very public about why he was concerned with sending additional disaster dollars to CA,” a senior administration official told Forbes when asked about Taylor’s initial allegations in August that Trump sought to withhold the aid, claiming it was because of “the state’s inability to mitigate wildfire risks due to their radical environmental policies.”

Trump has long dismissed the role played by climate change in the increasingly intense wildfires gripping California, claiming instead that their problems are the result of bad “forest management.”

But Trump has also cast blue states as separate from America in public policy, arguing that the U.S. coronavirus death toll would be lower if you “take the blue states out” and arguing he as president is not responsible for crime in “Democrat-run cities.”

Forbes has reached out to the White House for comment.

Crucial Quote

“If you recall, CA did receive disaster money to assist with recovering from wildfires,” the senior administration official noted in August. FEMA did end up approving aid for those California communities affected by the fires.

Chief Critic

“He’s already said he wanted to withhold aid to California — to punish the people of California — because they didn’t vote for him,” Biden said during a speech on climate change earlier this month. “This is yet another crisis he won’t take responsibility for. The West is literally on fire and he blames the people whose homes and communities are burning.”

Big Number

49%. That’s the share of voters who said in a Morning Consult/Politico poll earlier this month that they don’t trust the Trump administration to handle disaster relief, compared to 43% who do trust them. 51% of independents said they don’t trust the administration, while 83% of Democrats and 12% of Republicans said the same.

Source: Forbes – Business

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