Puerto Rico

Did John Kelly Scuttle Relief for Puerto Rico?

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Omarosa Manigault Newman has said enough in the past few days to talk about for an entire week, but I don't want to do that. Instead, I want to focus on very specific things that relate to other topics we've already discussed at length.

That brings us to Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico.

Trump is ultimately responsible for what happens under his watch, and that's especially true when he makes a point of taking credit for the response (even if it was a terrible response), but that doesn't mean others in his regime can't share responsibility.

In her new book, Omarosa claims that John Kelly was partially responsible for delaying the response to Hurricane Maria. According to her, John Kelly believed Puerto Rican officials were exaggerating the severity of storm damage to take advantage of taxpayers.

Manigault Newman described the administration's response to Puerto Rico — after the hurricane took out its electrical grid, left residents without food, water or housing and killed many — as lethargic and contrasted it with the White House's aid to Florida and Texas when those states were hit by hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

In a meeting, Kelly blamed the crisis on Puerto Rico's "already screwed-up" infrastructure, she wrote in "Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House," which was released Tuesday. Kelly suggested that Puerto Rico's government, near bankruptcy, "was trying to exploit the hurricane to focus on the United States to foot the bill to rebuild their electrical grid," she continued.

It's difficult to judge these claims because John Kelly is the one who fired her and she clearly has an axe to grind.

That doesn't necessarily mean she's lying, however, and all of her claims about the White House and Trump himself are entirely plausible. She has also released audio recordings that corroborate some of her biggest claims.

Based on what we know for sure, I find it believable that John Kelly was instrumental in delaying the response to Hurricane Maria and may even be obstructing it to this day. Before he became Trump's chief of staff, Kelly served as the chief of Homeland Security where he presided over the earliest attempts to implement Trump's Muslim Ban. Since that time, Kelly has disgraced himself on numerous occasions and proven himself to be a misogynist by defending Trump's former staff secretary Rob Porter even after photographic evidence of Porter's domestic abuse emerged.

It's also true that the Trump regime's response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida respectively was remarkably different. We didn't need Omarosa to tell us that.

  • Aynwrong

    Keep in mind John Kelly blatantly lied about Congresswoman Fredericka Wilson when he stood on a stage and fabricated an entire story about her that was almost instantly proven to be the exact opposite of what actually happened. This was done in order to blunt the revelation she brought to light about the death of a soldier who was the son of one her constitutes, Sgt. LA David Johnson. The soldier, his mother and the Congresswoman are all African American. Anyone think those lies would have been told if they had been white? Rhetorical question, of course.

  • muselet

    I don’t trust Omarosa Manigault Newman as far as I can throw a fit. She’s been grifting as long as she’s been in the public eye and she’s almost as reflexive a liar as Donald Trump his own self.

    That said, the idea that John Kelly slowed and reduced the government’s response to Hurricane Maria is certainly credible; it’s just not dispositive.

    What an awful bunch of people make up this administration.


  • mnpollio

    For all of the people bemoaning about how you cannot trust anything that comes from Omarosa, I would normally agree. However, all of the faults they are emphasizing in her, are faults shared by every member of the Trump cadre, INCLUDING John Kelly. Anyone who willingly associates with or supports Trump or takes a job under him knowing his history from the last 40 years, is either incredibly stupid or complicit in his crimes. And I am tired of hearing people twist themselves into pretzels to excuse Kelly because of “his service”. It is completely possible to “serve” your country for all the wrong reasons and be a despicable human being in day-to-day life. Remember that Mike Flynn was previously hailed for his “service to his country” even while he was selling it out. So military service is obviously not the be-all/end-all on making someone a good, humane or trustworthy individual – and we need to stop mindlessly feting it as though it was some sanctified shield to prevent criticism. Kelly has repeatedly shown his disdain for anyone of the darker complexion, so this news about his outlook towards Puerto Rico would hardly be a surprise if it turns out to be accurate.

    • Victor the Crab

      Same can be said for Oliver North.