Report: Trump Is Letting California Burn Because State Didn’t Vote For Him
President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked California leaders over the state’s wildfires, insisting that they are a result of poor forest management. But the president’s aversion to helping California is less about management and more about the state’s voters not supporting him.
Andrew Feinberg wrote in The Independent that insiders say Trump likes to “punish” blue states — even when they are literally burning.
While Trump’s most recent invocations of “forest management” as a cause of the wildfires appeared to be an attempt to downplay the role played by climate change, one former White House official said his forestry fixation is, was, and has always been a way for him to attempt to assign responsibility for the fires to California’s Democratic-dominated state government.
“He doesn’t care one bit about managing forests — or much of anything for that matter — unless he can spin it as a failure of governance under the Democratic Party,” said the official.
Feinberg said another former Trump administration official echoed those comments.
Miles Taylor, formerly the Department of Homeland Security Chief of Staff, “said Trump’s disdain for the state with the largest economy in the US extended not just to the elected officials in charge, but to the people who vote for them.”
Taylor, who has previously stated that Trump expressed a desire to cut off funding for disaster relief to California after a string of wildfires that devastated the state in 2018, said in an interview that the President specifically ordered a halt to individual assistance for Californians who’d been displaced from their homes or otherwise affected by the disaster.
“He didn't want the people in California to get the money, because he basically said he didn't think that they deserved it,” said Taylor, who added that after then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen explained the people in question were victims of natural disasters, Trump began ranting about how badly he’d been treated by former California Governor Jerry Brown and his successor.
“He talked about how terrible Jerry Brown was as governor, how bad Jerry Brown's been for him, that Jerry Brown hasn't supported him politically, and then Gavin Newsom,” he said.
Taylor said that Trump was particularly upset by Newsom’s first State of the State address.
“Trump said: ‘Did you see that f**king thing? It was a disaster. And this guy is against me on everything. And there's no way I'm gonna support California, there's just no way… If they don’t support me, I’m not gonna support them,’” Taylor explained. “It was a very clear political statement of him saying that if the past two governors aren’t supporting me, and the people of California don't like me politically… do not provide money, don't provide disaster relief.”
While “Trump has by now signed declarations to assist victims of wildfires in Oregon and Washington as well as California,” Feinberg wrote, “Taylor said Trump has often had little interest in providing federal assistance to those Americans he deems insufficiently supportive of him politically, and would often complain about the leadership of a given state when asked to sign disaster declarations.”
“It happened enough times that the leadership of DHS and DEMA would be worried about the President politicizing it when where was a disaster in a blue state,” he said.