Gov’t Watchdog: Trump Obstructed Investigation Into Response To Puerto Rico

Morning after Hurricane MariaRoosevelt Skerrit / CC-BY-0.0 / Flickr

The White House may have interfered with the distribution of disaster aid for Puerto Rico.

According to a government watchdog, The Department of Housing and Urban Development has been “unreasonably” slow in releasing emails and records requested by the watchdog as part of an investigation into HUD’s management of hurricane relief funding for Puerto Rico.

As reported by Axios, the HUD inspector general Rae Oliver Davis allegedly complained to HUD Secretary Ben Carson, saying that the dealy subverts the oversight assignment. Davis wrote in a memo: "The OIG has put the department on ample notice that responses to our requests are untimely, that such delays negatively affect our work, and that the delays in OIG access fail to comply with the law."

"The average wait time for HUD electronic records has increased from approximately 95 calendar days in 2017 to 151 calendar days in 2018, or more than 60 percent. ... 20 requests in 2018 took longer than six months, and in one instance, HUD took eight months to produce the emails of four employees," Davis wrote.

Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico raised eyebrows among Democrats when he refused to give Puerto Rico additional funds and did not visit the islands quickly after the natural disaster, as he had when the disaster was in Florida and Texas, two politically important states.

The IG is now investigating whether the White House interfered with the distribution of disaster aid for Puerto Rico. It is also investigating HUD’s management of disaster grants.

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