Cummings Requests White House Documents on Hurricane Response in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands

Oct 11, 2017
Press Release

Cummings Requests White House

Documents on Hurricane Response in

Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands


Washington, D.C. (Oct. 11, 2017)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to President Trump’s Chief of Staff, General John F. Kelly, requesting White House documents relating to the federal government’s preparation for and response to recent hurricane activity affecting multiple U.S. states and territories.


Although Republican Tom Davis, former Chairman of the Oversight Committee, sent a letter to the Bush White House requesting documents after Hurricane Katrina, Chairman Gowdy declined to join this letter to the White House.


Specifically, Cummings requested documents or communications prior to September 5, 2017, by White House officials relating to threat assessments, mitigation measures, emergency preparedness, or other contingency plans in the case of a hurricane striking Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands; and documents and communications from September 5, 2017, to October 4, 2017, by White House officials relating to any steps taken to prepare for the hurricanes, as well as “logistics challenges, distribution of commodities, or power restoration following the storms.”


As the Washington Post reported in Lost Weekend:  How Trump’s Time at His Golf Club Hurt the Response to Maria:


As Hurricane Maria made landfall on Wednesday, Sept. 20, there was a frenzy of activity publicly and privately.  The next day, President Trump called local officials on the island, issued an emergency declaration and pledged that all federal resources would be directed to help.


But then for four days after that—as storm-ravaged Puerto Rico struggled for food and water amid the darkness of power outages—Trump and his top aides effectively went dark themselves.


Trump jetted to New Jersey that Thursday night to spend a long weekend at his private golf club there, save for a quick trip to Alabama for a political rally.  Neither Trump nor any of his senior White House aides said a word publicly about the unfolding crisis.


Trump did hold a meeting at his golf club that Friday with half a dozen Cabinet officials—including acting Homeland Security secretary Elaine Duke, who oversees disaster response—but the gathering was to discuss his new travel ban, not the hurricane. Duke and Trump spoke briefly about Puerto Rico but did not talk again until Tuesday, an administration official said.


Administration officials would not say whether the president spoke with any other top officials involved in the storm response while in Bedminster, N.J.  He spent much of his time over those four days fixated on his escalating public feuds with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with fellow Republicans in Congress and with the National Football League over protests during the national anthem.


Tom Bossert, homeland security advisor to President Trump, reportedly stated that the Administration is employing a “new business model” in Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts. 



115th Congress