President Trump joked about trading Puerto Rico for Greenland, a former White House official told The New York Times.
Trump joked about trading the American territory for the Danish territory last year, according to the former official, who reportedly overheard the president.
The revelation comes after the president sparked controversy by saying he wanted the U.S. to buy Greenland and then abruptly canceled a meeting with Denmark’s leader after she called Trump’s interest in purchasing Greenland is “absurd.”
“Greenland is not Danish. Greenland is Greenlandic. I persistently hope that this is not something that is seriously meant,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told reporters on Tuesday.
Trump defended his decision to cancel the visit on Wednesday, telling reporters Frederiksen’s comment “was a very not nice way of saying something.”
“They could have told me no,” Trump said.
“All they had to say was we’d rather not do that,” he added. “Don’t say, what an absurd idea that is.”
The Hill notes:
Trump has frequently sparred with Puerto Rican politicians, calling them “corrupt.” Trump has repeatedly made the incorrect claim the island received $92 billion in disaster relief for Hurricane Maria, and Puerto Rican officials have criticized the president for not doing more in the aftermath of the 2017 natural disaster, which devastated the island. His behavior during a visit after the storm, when he flipped rolls of paper towels into the crowd, was also criticized by Puerto Rican officials.