Why go through the trouble of asking for money when you can just ... take it?
That seems to be President Trump's approach to building his U.S.-Mexico border wall, given the news this week that the Pentagon has agreed to divert billions of dollars from military funding to erect a barrier on America's southern border. The diversion was made possible by the fact that Trump declared a national emergency over the border in February, which allows him to circumvent Congress to redirect funds to the "crisis." (You may recall that the president's original plan was to graciously accept voluntary border wall funding from Mexico, but shockingly those mystical funds have yet to materialize from our southern neighbors.)
"Nearly every facet of military life ... will be affected by the transfer," The New York Times reports. Roughly $3.6 billion in funding will be reallocated — money that was set to, among other things, build schools at home and abroad, erect rifle ranges and aircraft simulators, and repair damage wrought by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The money will instead go toward repairs and new construction in 11 areas along the border.
The raiding of Hurricane Maria recovery coffers is perhaps the most devastating, seeing as the island territory is still recovering from the deadly 2017 storm while another hurricane season churns on. The Pentagon is rerouting funds that were allocated to "some $400 million in planned projects for Puerto Rico, the majority of which were related to Hurricane Maria," Vice reports, including a military school and training facility for the island's National Guard. Puerto Rico will be among the areas hit hardest by the reallocation, per Vice, along with Guam, New York, and New Mexico.
The president has repeatedly taken somewhat of an unconventional tack toward hurricane recovery, and when it comes to Puerto Rico he's displayed a particular willingness for malice. In addition to the moment he jovially threw paper towel rolls into a crowd of relief workers in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, he's repeatedly attacked the island's government and its daring to exist in a hurricane-prone area. He's also made questionable — and at times baffling — comments during storms that battered Florida and Texas.
Meanwhile, the southern U.S. is currently battling Hurricane Dorian, which ravaged the Bahamas before continuing north toward the Carolinas. Trump's storm-induced creativity reached a new level Wednesday, when he displayed a map produced by the National Hurricane Center that appeared to have extended Dorian's projected path. After insisting on Twitter that the state of Alabama was in Dorian's sights, the president presented a map that appeared to have been manually altered with black marker:
Despite being fact-checked by the National Weather Service, Trump continued tweeting into Thursday about the risk Dorian posed to Alabama. The storm's eye, meanwhile, remained just east of South Carolina, with its projected path taking it north toward North Carolina's coast by Friday.