During Tuesday’s visit to Puerto Rico, Donald Trump joked about the devastation’s ill effects on the United States federal budget and tossed paper towels to the crowd for a photo op. Unsurprisingly, this earned the president plenty of ire from San Juan’s outspoken mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, as well as other critics in Puerto Rico and the American news media. Yet Trump did mention one incredibly positive political idea during a brief interview with Fox News’s Geraldo Rivera, which aired during Sean Hannity’s Las Vegas mass shooting spectacular.
“We’re going to help the people. They have a lot of problems and a lot of debt. They had $72 billion in debt before the hurricanes hit,” said Trump. “We’re going to work something out. We have to look at their whole debt structure. They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street, and we’re going to have to wipe that out. You can say goodbye to that. I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs, but to whoever it is, you can wave goodbye to that.”
OMB director on Trump saying he will wipe out Puerto Rico’s debt: “I wouldn’t take it word for word with that” https://t.co/MXOMDhmyBw
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 4, 2017
Rivera quickly moved on from the president’s debt comments, but Chris Cuomo, the host of CNN’s New Day morning program, did not when he talked to Mick Mulvaney the following day. “The president seemed to suggest that he is open to wiping out the Puerto Rican debt,” said Cuomo. “Is that to be taken seriously on it’s face?” “I wouldn’t take it word for word with that,” responded Mulvaney, who serves as Trump’s White House Office of Management and Budget director. “I talked to the president about this at some length as we flew home on Air Force One.”
This isn’t the first time one of Trump’s own appointees has contradicted, or walked back, his previous statements. Defense Secretary James Mattis did so (for the second time) during congressional testimony concerning the Iran deal on Tuesday. (As for State Secretary Rex Tillerson, his reported protestations against Trump were less than cordial, albeit behind closed doors.) At least the president actually said his Puerto Rico debt remarks on camera, as opposed to tweeting his sudden policy shifts per usual.