President Donald Trump said Tuesday that “you can say goodbye” to Puerto Rico’s crushing public debt, as the territory faces a difficult recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Maria.
“We have to look at their whole debt structure,” Trump told Geraldo Rivera in an interview on Fox News. Asked about the administration’s commitment to help rebuild the battered island, Trump said Puerto Rico owes “a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street, and we’re going to have to wipe that out.”
“I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs, but whoever it is, you can wave goodbye to that,” he continued, citing Puerto Rico’s “massive” debt without elaborating on a relief plan.
Trump also responded to criticism of his administration’s disaster response efforts in the storm-ravaged territory, where at least 34 people have died and about millions remain without power in the wake of two powerful storms. Trump said of his response: “we may have done our best work here, but it hasn’t been appreciated.”
The President visited Puerto Rico Tuesday, nearly two weeks after Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, for a little over five hours. The territory is home to approximately 3.5 million U.S. citizens. Saddled with $72 billion in public debt, its economy has struggled to recover from a decade-long recession, which has caused many to leave for the U.S. mainland. Its crumbling power grid suffered a total wipeout when Hurricane Maria lashed the island last month.