As Trump Slams ‘Corrupt’ Puerto Rico, FBI Arrests FEMA Officials For Hurricane Maria Relief Fraud
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President Trump has repeatedly slammed Puerto Rican officials for their handling of the Hurricane Maria relief effort, decrying the unincorporated U.S. territory as “one of the most corrupt places on earth.” On Tuesday, the FBI took action to crack down on corruption involving Maria relief, though rather than targeting Puerto Rican leaders, the bureau arrested two former FEMA officials — one of whom held a key position in the Obama administration — and a contractor.
“Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth. Their political system is broken and their politicians are either Incompetent or Corrupt,” Trump tweeted as Hurricane Dorian picked up steam two weeks ago. “Congress approved Billions of Dollars last time, more than anyplace else has ever gotten, and it is sent to Crooked Pols. No good!”
Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth. Their political system is broken and their politicians are either Incompetent or Corrupt. Congress approved Billions of Dollars last time, more than anyplace else has ever gotten, and it is sent to Crooked Pols. No good!….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2019
Trump’s criticism of Puerto Rican officials has been one of his steady themes since the devastating hurricane wreaked havoc on the island in 2017. Amid criticism for his supposedly “tepid response” to the disaster, Trump has repeatedly pointed the finger at Puerto Rico’s leadership, accusing them of botching the relief effort and wasting resources.
On Tuesday, Trump’s “corruption” claims about Hurricane Maria relief efforts were partly affirmed, but the alleged culprits were two former federal officials and a contractor, not Puerto Rican officials.
“A former top administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency was arrested on Tuesday in a major federal corruption investigation that found that the official took bribes from the president of a company that secured $1.8 billion in federal contracts to repair Puerto Rico’s shredded electrical grid after Hurricane Maria,” The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The most high-profile of the arrests was Ahsha Tribble, FEMA’s former deputy administrator for the region including Puerto Rico who also once served as Homeland Security adviser for the Obama administration. A second former FEMA employee, Jovanda Patterson, who served as deputy chief of staff in Puerto Rico, was also arrested. The third suspect is Donald Keith Ellison, former president of Cobra Acquisitions.
Puerto Rico’s U.S Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez Vélez revealed Tuesday that Tribble had a “close personal relationship” with Ellison, the Times notes. Cobra Acquisitions went on to hire Patterson, according to Vélez.
Prosecutors say Tribble, Patterson and Ellison defrauded the federal government. Ellison allegedly offered Tribble a “stream of benefits,” including helping her get an apartment in New York, first-class airplane tickets, hotel stays, and the use of one of his credit cards in exchange for Tribble helping secure a major contract for Ellison’s company. The indictment alleges that Tribble and Ellison attempted to conceal their special relationship and gifts through various means, including using a disposable cellphone.
“In return for the gifts, Ms. Tribble is accused of performing official acts to advance Cobra’s interests,” the Times details. “For example, according to the indictment, in February 2018, after the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority reported an explosion at a substation in Monacillo, P.R., that left several municipalities without power, Ms. Tribble insisted that the public utility hire Cobra to make repairs or risk not getting reimbursed by FEMA — even though leaders of the utility insisted they could do the same work at a far lower cost.”
Nikki Haley Breaks with Trump: ‘We Shouldn’t Have Followed Him, and We Shouldn’t Have Listened to Him’
Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, believes that former President Donald Trump “let us down.”
Haley’s remarks come as the former president’s legal team prepares to present its defense of Trump during his second impeachment trial in the Senate.
In a Politico interview published Friday, Haley, former South Carolina governor, said that “we shouldn’t have followed” Trump.
“We need to acknowledge he let us down,” she said in an extensive profile. “He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.”
She also told the outlet that she has not spoken to Trump since the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol, and takes issue with his remarks condemning former Vice President Mike Pence’s refusal to reject the Electoral College vote.
“When I tell you I’m angry, it’s an understatement,” she expressed. “I am so disappointed in the fact that [despite] the loyalty and friendship he had with Mike Pence, that he would do that to him. Like, I’m disgusted by it.”
The former ambassador, who many people are speculating may run for the White House in 2024, also added that Trump will never accept the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“There’s nothing that you’re ever going to do that’s going to make him feel like he legitimately lost the election,” she explained. “He’s got a big bully pulpit. He should be responsible with it.”
Haley also warned that many people still love the former president and will not stop supporting him just because he is out of office.
“I know how much people love Donald Trump,” she admitted. “I know it. I feel it. Whether it’s an RNC room or social media or talking to donors, I can tell you that the love they have for him is still very strong. That’s not going to just fall to the wayside. Nor do I think the Republican Party is going to go back to the way it was before Donald Trump. I don’t think it should.”
Haley added that people, instead, should “take the good that he built, leave the bad that he did, and get back to a place where we can be a good, valuable, effective party.”
“[I]t’s bigger than the party,” she insisted. “I hope our country can come together and figure out how we pull this back.”
Referring to Haley’s possible 2024 ambitions, Politico’s Tim Alberta wrote, “Since last fall, I’ve spent nearly six hours talking with Haley on-the-record. I’ve also spoken with nearly 70 people who know her: friends, associates, donors, staffers, former colleagues. From those conversations, two things are clear. First, Nikki Haley is going to run for president in 2024. Second, she doesn’t know which Nikki Haley will be on the ballot.”
Haley also said that she didn’t believe Trump had a chance of winning in a 2024 election scenario.
“I don’t think he can,” she admitted. “He’s fallen so far.”
“I think his business is suffering at this point,” she added. “I think he’s lost any sort of political viability he was going to have. I think he’s lost his social media, which meant the world to him. I mean, I think he’s lost the things that really could have kept him moving.”
WATCH: Trump’s Defense Team Absolutely Ruins Democrats With 13 Minute Montage of “Fight” Word Like Trump Did
The Democrats demonized President Trump for using the word ‘fight’. Trump’s attorneys responded today with a collage of clips from each of the Democrats in the room using the word ‘fight’.
This portion of today’s events on Capitol Hill was excellent. The Democrats claim that because President Trump used the word ‘fight’ in his speech on January 6th in Washington D.C. However, what every Democrat in that room forgot was that they too had used the word previously in political speech.
The montage went on for 13 minutes. (The video montage starts at 7:10 timeframe.)
WATCH: Trump Attorneys Destroy House Managers on Lying to American Public and Using Manipulated Tweet as Evidence
President Trump’s defense team took the floor of the US Senate on Friday in defense of President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial.
Trump Attorney David Schoen absolutely destroyed the House Managers when he took to the floor of the US Senate.
At one point Schoen played video of the Democrat lawmakers lying about a Trump tweet.
House Impeachment Manager Eric Swalwell gave a riveting performance on Wednesday reading off Trump’s tweets with emotional appeal.
During this theatrical performance, Swalwell read off a Trump retweet by Jennifer Lynn Lawrence.
But there was one problem with the tweet. It was photoshopped.
Jennifer Lynn Lawrence has never been verified by Twitter. Democrats faked that to make it look more important.
On Friday Trump Attorney David Schoen destroyed Democrats for lying about this to the American public.
White House Suspends Deputy Press Secretary For Allegedly Sexually Harassing, Threatening Reporter
The White House announced on Friday that it was suspending Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo after a report surfaced alleging that he sexually harassed and threatened a female reporter who was getting ready to publish a report revealing that he was dating a reporter who had previously been tasked with covering Democrat Joe Biden.
“The confrontation began on Inauguration Day, January 20, after [Politico reporter Tara] Palmeri, a coauthor of Politico’s Playbook, contacted [Axios political reporter Alexi] McCammond for comment while one of her male colleagues left a message for Ducklo,” Vanity Fair reported. “Ducklo subsequently called a Playbook editor to object to the story, but was told to call the Playbook reporters with his concerns. But instead of calling the male reporter who initially contacted him, Ducklo tried to intimidate Palmeri by phone in an effort to kill the story. ‘I will destroy you,’ Ducklo told her, according to the sources, adding that he would ruin her reputation if she published it.”
“During the off-the-record call, Ducklo made derogatory and misogynistic comments, accusing Palmeri of only reporting on his relationship—which, due to the ethics questions that factor into the relationship between a journalist and White House official, falls under the purview of her reporting beat—because she was ‘jealous’ that an unidentified man in the past had ‘wanted to f***’ McCammond ‘and not you,’” the report added. “Ducklo also accused Palmeri of being ‘jealous’ of his relationship with McCammond.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said following the report that Ducklo has been suspended for a week over the incident.
“TJ Ducklo has apologized to the reporter, with whom he had a heated conversation about his personal life,” Psaki wrote on Twitter. “He is the first to acknowledge this is not the standard of behavior set out by the President.”
TJ Ducklo has apologized to the reporter, with whom he had a heated conversation about his personal life. He is the first to acknowledge this is not the standard of behavior set out by the President.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) February 12, 2021
“In addition to his initial apology, he has sent the reporter a personal note expressing his profound regret,” she continued. “With the approval of the White House Chief of Staff, he has been placed on a one-week suspension without pay. In addition, when he returns, he will no longer be assigned to work with any reporters at Politico.”
With the approval of the White House Chief of Staff, he has been placed on a one-week suspension without pay. In addition, when he returns, he will no longer be assigned to work with any reporters at Politico.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) February 12, 2021
Reporters called out the administration over the incident, highlighting how the Trump administration did not treat reporters that way as well as issues with the timeline of events with regard to the White House taking action to address the incident.
“The Vanity Fair piece indicates that Politico editors reached to the WH after the incident first occurred and the WH acknowledged it was inappropriate,” Spectator editor Amber Athey wrote on Twitter. “But they clearly didn’t have any interest in disciplining Ducklo until his behavior was made public.”
The Vanity Fair piece indicates that Politico editors reached to the WH after the incident first occurred and the WH acknowledged it was inappropriate. But they clearly didn't have any interest in disciplining Ducklo until his behavior was made public @PressSec pic.twitter.com/T3mTLPcdid
— Amber Athey (@amber_athey) February 12, 2021
New York Magazine reporter Olivia Nuzzi wrote on Twitter: “I covered Donald Trump for 6 years. It is saying something that this behavior — from a Biden official — shocks me.”
I covered Donald Trump for 6 years. It is saying something that this behavior — from a Biden official — shocks me.
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) February 12, 2021
Grabien founder Tom Elliott highlighted the following remarks that Biden made a few weeks ago: “If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot, on the spot. No if, ands, or buts. Everybody — everybody is entitled to be treated with decency & dignity.”
Biden 3 weeks ago: "If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot, on the spot. No if, ands, or buts. Everybody — everybody is entitled to be treated with decency & dignity." pic.twitter.com/0QDHnyU3Jo
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 12, 2021
CNN anchor Jake Tapper responded to the quote, writing: “Standards that are not upheld are not standards. They’re lies.”
Standards that are not upheld are not standards. They’re lies. https://t.co/7b1InypvBT
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 12, 2021