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Ex-Aide: Trump's Hateful Words Derail Staff

Newser — Bob Cronin

Elaine Duke gives the White House response to Hurricane Maria devastating Puerto Rico as an example of her disappointment in her brief tenure running the Department of Homeland Security.

She wanted President Trump to issue an emergency declaration before the hurricane hit land but was rebuffed, the New York Times reports. "Quit being so emotional, Elaine, it's not about the people, it's about the money," she said Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told her, which he denies.

She was then displeased by Trump's war of words with Puerto Rico's leaders and his suggestion that the US sell the island. The administration revolved around Trump's "hate-filled, angry and divisive" language, Duke said.

"We get distracted by slogans, by maybe words we heard like the president allegedly saying 'Haiti is a shithole,'" she said. "So we get only spun up in that, and then we never get to the issue."

Duke, who was acting secretary of the department until Kirstjen Nielsen was confirmed to the top job in 2017, said Trump's suspicion that he was being undermined by a "deep state" affected the way he governed.

He listened to only a few aides, she said. “President Trump believes that he can’t trust," she said. "That has affected his ability to get counsel from diverse groups of people." Duke stayed on as deputy secretary at the department, where she had also worked under President George W. Bush, but left early in 2018 after Nielsen gave her little to do, per the Washington Post. She had fallen out of favor with the White House partly for not expeling about 57,000 Hondurans from the US who'd been in the country for nearly two decades under temporary protected status. (Trump didn't like what John Kelly said about serving in the White House.)

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