Trump Threatens Literal Scorched-Earth Policy to Punish California

Donald Trump stands alongside Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom as they view damage from the Camp Fire in Paradise California on Nov. 17 2018

President Donald Trump told FEMA not to send more disaster funding to fire-ravaged California "unless they get their act together, which is unlikely".

Trump tweeted Wednesday that California gets billions of dollars for fires that could have been prevented with better management. "It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!" the president said, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

November's Camp fire, which obliterated the Northern California town of Paradise, killed 86 people and destroyed more than 13,900 homes.

Trump also blamed poor forest management even while the fire was raging, and cited the superior management practiced in Finland, though the country's president denied a conversation with Trump happened as the president described it.

FEMA, which provides grants for home repairs or rental assistance after disasters, said it could not respond to queries about Trump's order due to the partial government shutdown, and it was not clear whether there would be any immediate impact. "The people of CA - folks in Paradise", a community that was among the hardest hit by the Camp Fire previous year, "should not be victims to partisan bickering".

Numerous wildfires that afflicted California late a year ago were wholly or partly on federal land, according to data from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

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It's unclear what prompted Trump's tweet, but if one were to take a guess, it might have to do with the fact that California governor Gavin Newsom is blasting Trump for the address he gave last night on border security. On other occasions Trump has adopted a right-wing conspiracy theory blaming California wildfires on state water policies he pretty clearly does not understand. Newsom said they had "been put in office by the voters to get things done, not to play games with lives". The state's former top firefighter Ken Pimlott disagrees, saying last month that California leads the nation in clearing away dead trees and thinning areas to remove fuel for fires.

Trump announced the decision to cut the flow of aid in a tweet on Wednesday morning.

Pelosi slammed Trump's latest threat, tweeting that it "insults the memory of scores of Americans who perished in wildfires previous year".

In a tweet, Trump accused the state of failing to properly manage its forests.

This isn't the first time the US President has lashed out at California for its handling of the destructive wildfires. Newsom asked for $105 million to improve wildfire safety on Tuesday.

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