Remember when President Trump was spouting a lot of malarkey in November 2018 about how California needed to do better with "forest management" and that's why he wanted to cut off FEMA assistance after the devastating Camp Fire? Well, in a new election ad, a former Trump administration official is now confirming that Trump attempted to withhold needed aid to fire victims purely because California overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton.
No one who isn't a Trump-glamoured zombie had any doubt that Trump was talking a bunch of bullshit when he brought up "raking" and the need for better forest management nearly two years ago ago, in the wake of a fire that killed 84 people and leveled an entire California town. It was clear to every intelligent person that Trump was simply frustrated with having to be compassionate in a disaster that occurred far outside his political base — and to do so with a Democratic governor who frequently mocked and criticized him on Twitter.
Well over a week after the disaster, Trump was convinced to visit Paradise and make a public appearance with Governor Gavin Newsom. But even then he continued on with his asinine talk about doing more raking. And now, former Homeland Security Chief of Staff Miles Taylor is speaking out about what went down behind closed doors, in an ad for Republican Voters Against Trump.
NEW: Testimonial ad from Trump's Former DHS Chief of Staff @MilesTaylorUSA, declaring his support for Joe Biden and describing Trump's presidency as "terrifying" and "actively doing damage to our security."— Republican Voters Against Trump (@RVAT2020) August 17, 2020
WATCH & go to https://t.co/Nz2NiSCquN for more. pic.twitter.com/iChqOdIIew
In the two-minute ad, Taylor says that what he saw "week in and week out" in doing daily briefings with the President during his two and a half years with DHS "was terrifying." "We would go in to try to talk to him about a pressing national security issue — cyber attack, terror threat — and he wasn't interested in those things. To him, they weren't priorities. He wanted to exploit the Department of Homeland Security for his own political purposes, and to fuel his own agenda."
After the Camp Fire in November 2018, Taylor says, Trump directly instructed FEMA to stop providing disaster assistance to California. "He told us to stop giving money to people whose houses had burned down from a wildfire because he was so rageful that people in the state of California didn't support him, and the state wasn't a base for him."
The allegation tracks with Trump's own tweet on the matter on January 9, 2019, in which he claimed to have "ordered" FEMA to "send no more money" to California "unless they get their act together." FEMA never did end its aid to fire victims.
Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2019
Taylor also confirms that Trump directed the family-separation policy at the southern border in an attempt to discourage people from attempting to enter the country legally or illegally.
"He was one of the most unfocused and undisciplined senior executives I've ever encountered," Taylor says.
He concludes by saying he's supporting Joe Biden, despite being a Republican himself and despite big differences on policy, because he's "confident [Biden] won't make the same mistakes as this president."
The Chronicle picked up the ad on Monday, noting that Taylor joined the staff of Google in October of last year as head of the company's national security relations team, but he's currently on leave from the role. According to his Twitter, he's also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
In response to the ad, White House spokesman Judd Deere issued a statement calling Taylor "another creature of the D.C. swamp who never understood the importance of the president’s agenda or why the American people elected him and clearly just wants to cash in."
I'll just remind Deere, in case he's listening, that a majority of American people did not actually elect him. But the electoral college did.
The ad arrives just as a parade of Republican figures is expected to address the Democratic National Convention this week in a most unusual display of party disloyalty. Former Ohio Governor John Kasich will lead that pack on Monday evening, and he'll be joined by fellow Republicans Christine Todd Whitman, Meg Whitman, and Susan Molinari.
Photo by Paul Kitagaki Jr.-Pool/Getty Images