Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

‘You have to call and ask me nicely’: Trump refused to release disaster aid unless governors grovelled for it, new book reveals

In This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future , authors Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns report Mr Trump demanded sycophancy from governors who needed aid for their states beyond what has previously been revealed

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Sunday 24 April 2022 13:51 BST
Leer en Español

Former president Donald Trump routinely forced governors to grovel and beg him personally for federal aid following natural disasters, according to a forthcoming book by a pair of New York Times reporters.

According to a copy of This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future obtained by The Independent ahead of its’ 3 May release date, authors Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns learned from Maryland Governor Larry Hogan that Mr Trump had a policy which stated that only Texas and Florida — two states with GOP governors he considered to be close allies — would receive federal aid when needed without question.

Mr Hogan told the authors that Mr Trump required the other 48 governors of American states to direct their requests to him personally.

“You have to call and ask me nicely,” he recalled Mr Trump saying.

The disgraced, twice-impeached ex-president’s penchant for tying federal funds to political concerns was widely known by the end of his term in office, and was what led to his first impeachment in 2019, after he tried to blackmail Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into launching sham investigations into President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Mr Trump also publicly boasted of telling then-vice president Mike Pence not to take calls from Democratic governors who displeased him when Mr Pence was head of the White House Covid-19 task force.

But This Will Not Pass reveals he went further than demanding public fealty from governors who needed federal aid for their states.

One Democratic governor — Ned Lamont of Connecticut — discovered his Maryland counterpart’s description Mr Trump’s demand for personal requests was not at all exaggerated.

After an August 2020 storm left significant portions of his state without electrical power, Mr Lamont asked the White House for assistance in obtaining federal disaster aid.

When he received a call from Washington in response several hours later, it was not a White House aide on the other end of the line.

Instead, he found himself speaking with Mr Trump, who said: “There’s something you want me to ask about Fema?”

When Mr Lamont replied that he did, in fact, want to ask about Fema aid, Mr Trump replied: “Well, ask me nicely”.

The Connecticut governor told Mr Martin and Mr Burns that in that moment, he felt like Mr Zelensky during his infamous July 2019 call with Mr Trump, during which the American president demanded “a favour” after the Ukrainian leader asked to purchase additional Javelin anti-tank missiles.

He decided to play along, telling Mr Trump that his state was “in incredible distress” and said “it would mean a lot to the people that [he represents] every day” if Mr Trump “could bring it upon [himself]” to authorise 100 percent reimbursement of disaster aid through Fema.

In this instance, the forced sycophancy paid dividends for him.

Mr Trump replied: “You got it”.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in