The Trump management also obstructed an examination looking right into why it to be depriving the U.S. Territory of congressionally approved funds, the report found.

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A hurricane-damaged residence shows traces the a blue tarp installation in mountain Juan, Puerto Rico, ~ above July 13, nearly three year after Hurricane Maria tore with the island.Carlos Giusti / AP file
The management of previous President Donald trump card obstructed an examination looking right into why public representative withheld around $20 exchange rate in hurricane relief for Puerto Rico complying with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017, among the deadliest U.S. Natural disasters in over 100 years, a brand-new report says.

A department of Housing and Urban advance Office the Inspector basic report do public Thursday also found the tensions in between the department and the Office of Management and also Budget brought about unprecedented procedural hurdles that produced delays in the disbursement of the congressionally approved funds.


It all began after 2018 when OMB began requiring HUD to send provide notices for catastrophe funds through an interagency review process for approval, do it hard for HUD come publish the notices necessary to unlock capital in a fashionable manner. Investigators uncovered that OMB had never before required such a review process for a an alert allocating restore funds.

Former HUD Deputy Secretary Brian Montgomery told investigators about a phone speak to he had actually with then-OMB director Russell Vought in i beg your pardon Montgomery said Vought the actions from his office were equivalent to hold disaster-relief accumulation “hostage,” follow to the report.


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Investigators said they were unable to obtain testimonies native officials who ordered the interagency review process. Previous HUD Secretary Ben Carson and also another former HUD official likewise declined to be interviewed by investigators.

Access come HUD info was delayed or denied multiple times throughout the food of the investigation, the report said, and several former senior administration officials in ~ the OMB refuse to administer requested information about their decision-making process in regard to the Puerto Rico relief funds.


However, investigators were able to interview 20 current and former HUD officials and two Puerto Rico real estate officials.

The Office of Inspector basic said its monitor authorities do not allow because that a review or main opinion the actions bring away by Trump administration officials.


President Donald trump card walks previous hurricane wreckage together he participates in a walking tour with first lady Melania Trump, Guaynabo mayor Angel Perez Otero, second right, and acting FEMA Administrator Brock Long, far right, as well as Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello, left, and also his wife, Beatriz Areizeaga, in areas damaged by Hurricane Maria in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, on Oct. 3, 2017.Jonathan serious / Reuters file

The trump card administration"s OMB likewise insisted top top overhauls come Puerto Rico’s property monitoring records, suspension that its minimum wage on commonwealth contracts and other prerequisites to access relief funds, according to the report. Some HUD officials worried such requirements were potentially beyond HUD’s authority to impose on grantees.

The Office of Inspector General began the review in march 2019 after ~ Congress asked it to look right into hurricane help delays together the island seek to recuperate from a storm that brought about the deaths the 2,975 people and also triggered the world"s second-longest blackout.


Seven months after the probe to be launched, two optimal HUD public official admitted come knowingly missing the congressionally mandated attributed to concern a notification that would have unlocked billions in federal recovery accumulation to Puerto Rico. Carson later protected his agency"s action by echoing Trump talking points — citing concerns about corruption, budget irregularities and "Puerto Rico"s capacity to control these funds."


Throughout his term, Trump repeatedly opposed disaster resources for Puerto Rico if disputing and failing to acknowledge Maria"s death toll. Trumped had likewise told peak White residence officials "that he did not desire a solitary dollar going to Puerto Rico," the Washington short article reported in 2019. "Instead, that wanted more of the money to walk to Texas and Florida."

Under Trump, Congress had actually approved a complete of $20 billion in HUD funds for Puerto Rico"s post-hurricane reconstruction, a historic amount. Yet the agency stalled the release of the aid in 2019 and imposed additional restrictions and requirements last year on how Puerto Rico could gain access to the funds, citing corruption and financial mismanagement concerns.

Office of Inspector general audits published last year found that Puerto Rico requirements to have actually a much better system because that requesting and also monitoring commonwealth grants to rebuild after Hurricane Maria — yet Texas and Florida had comparable issues and also their funds were not organized up after herbal disasters.


Blue tarps provided out by the commonwealth Emergency Management firm cover numerous roofs two years ~ Hurricane Maria affected the island in mountain Juan, Puerto Rico, ~ above Sept. 18, 2019.Ricardo Arduengo / AFP - Getty photos file

The latest probe comes 2 days after chairman Joe Biden"s management removed Trump-era restrictions unique to Puerto Rico limiting its ability to accessibility recovery funds v HUD. The company also unlocked accessibility to $8.2 exchange rate in Community development Block approve Mitigation funds to aid the island construct resiliency against future disasters. The help was authorized by congress in 2018.


Biden removed restrictions request incremental approve obligations, a commonwealth financial monitor to supervise the assist and additional oversight native the island’s federally implemented financial oversight board, according new HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge.

The federal government has allocated almost $69 billion to assist the island recuperate from Maria and also other tragedies that have hit the island over the past couple of years. But most of the money, specifically funds because that housing and also infrastructure relief, hasn"t do its way to neighborhoods on the island. Puerto Rico has received $19 billion, follow to the Office the Recovery, Reconstruction and also Resiliency.

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Nicole Acevedo
Nicole Acevedo is a reporter because that NBC News Digital. She reports, writes and also produces stories for NBC Latino and audioeditorfree.com.