On Thursday, Joe Biden’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken had to reassure the American and Danish people that the administration has no desire or plans to try and buy Greenland, after we were all reminded of former President Trump’s desire to do so that never came to pass and set off a small diplomatic firestorm.
While visiting Greenland this week, Blinken told a the media that it was “correct” that the administration does not want to purchase the Danish territory.
According to the Reuters report, Blinken was right beside Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod, Greenland’s premier, Mute Egede, and Foreign Minister Pele Broberg in the news conference.
In 2018 it was reported that Trump thought Greenland would make a good new addition to the United States and that he wanted Greenland’s natural resources as well as adding a new state to the union as part of his presidential legacy.
Sources told the Wall Street Journal then that Trump had gone as far as asking his White House counsel about what it would take for the U.S. to buy Greenland.
Ane Lone Bagger, Greenland’s foreign minister bluntly responded to Trump’s plans, saying “we are open for business, but we’re not for sale.”
Greenland Prime Minister Kim Kielsen shared that sentiment, saying at the time that the idea “is not something to joke about” during an Icelandic meeting of Nordic government leaders.
Trump was scheduled to visit Denmark but cancelled the trip abruptly after the PM resisted his forays into the territory being purchased. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen added that the idea was “absurd.” Trump later responded, saying using that word was “terrible” and “not a nice statement.”
Trump was very clear that he cancelled the trip because they wouldn’t be open to discussion about selling the land:
“Denmark, I looked forward to going, but I thought that the prime minister’s statement that it was ‘absurd,’ that it was an ‘absurd idea,’ was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All she had to do is say, ‘no, we wouldn’t be interested.’ We can’t treat the United States of America the way they treated us under President Obama. I thought it was a very not nice way of saying something. They could have told me no.”
Greenland came up again in 2020 when Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff told MSNBC that Donald Trump asked him as well as several other officials if the U.S. could trade Greenland for Puerto Rico because, in Trump’s own words. “Puerto Rico was dirty and the people were poor.”
Taylor, who was recently featured in a political ad from Republican Voters Against Trump, said the exchange happened in August of 2018 before DHS officials traveled to Puerto Rico after it had been devastated by Hurricane Irma and Maria.
“I did not take it as a joke,” said Taylor. “The president expressed deep animus towards the Puerto Rican people behind the scenes. These are people who are recovering from the worst disaster we’ve seen in our lifetimes and he is their president. He should be standing by them, not trying to sell them off to a foreign country.”
White House Special Representative for Puerto Rico Disaster Recovery, Peter Brown stated that he has “never heard the president say anything of that sort.”
Brown added that Trump “has been supportive of the unprecedented relief and recovery effort the federal government has launched for Puerto Rico.”
Over the last several years, Puerto Rico has faced a cascade of crises. Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory killing nearly 3,000 people. The island still hasn’t fully recovered from the hurricane. The island is also struggling to get out of the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
Trump failed to publicly acknowledge or mourn the thousands of lost lives in Puerto Rico after the hurricane. On several occasions Trump stated that he opposed disaster funding for Puerto Rico and COVID-19 ravaged the Island territory without a word from Trump.