Trump refuses to help California after disastrous wildfire season


Donald Trump has regularly attacked Democratic-led states that did not vote for him.

Donald Trump is refusing to grant California's request for a disaster declaration to help the state clean up and rebuild following a series of historically destructive wildfires, CNN reported on Thursday, in a move that will hamper the state's ability to receive federal funding for the relief efforts.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom requested the disaster declaration on Sept. 28 following the wildfires that burned millions of acres of the state and killed 31 people.

The wildfires unequivocally count as a major disaster, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency defines as: "Any natural event, including any hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought, or, regardless of cause, fire, flood, or explosion, that the President believes has caused damage of such severity that it is beyond the combined capabilities of state and local governments to respond."

But Trump has attacked Democratic-led states such as California that did not vote for him in 2016, treating them as if they are not his responsibility as leader of the country.

Miles Taylor, a former top official in Trump's Department of Homeland Security, said Trump explicitly directed the department to stop giving money for wildfire relief because people in California did not vote for him.

"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 that politically it wasn't a base for him," Taylor said in an ad released in August in support of Democratic nominee Joe Biden for president.

During the House's impeachment inquiry into Trump's conduct with Ukraine last year, Pamela Karlan, a professor of law at Stanford University, presented a hypothetical scenario that captures Trump's approach to federal aid of requiring something to his benefit in exchange, calling it an abuse of his office.

Karlan said during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in December 2019:

Imagine living in a part of Louisiana or Texas that's prone to devastating hurricanes and flooding. What would you think if you lived there and your governor asked for a meeting with the president to discuss getting disaster aid that Congress has provided for? What would you think if that president said, 'I would like you to do us a favor? I'll meet with you, and send the disaster relief, once you brand my opponent a criminal.'


Wouldn't you know in your gut that such a president has abused his office? That he'd betrayed the national interest, and that he was trying to corrupt the electoral process? I believe the evidentiary record shows wrongful acts on those scale here.

Trump's refusal to grant the disaster declaration comes as his chances at reelection grow slimmer.

Trump trails Biden nationally by double-digit margins, according to the FiveThirtyEight polling average. Trump is also losing in critical states such as Arizona and Florida that he needs to win reelection.

With just 18 days until Election Day, Trump's chances to turn the race are fading. So far, nearly 20 million people have already cast ballots through early voting.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.