Donald Trump Says He'll ‘Wipe Out’ Puerto Rico’s Massive Debt

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President Donald Trump signaled Tuesday night that he wanted to “wipe out” Puerto Rico’s debt.

“They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street and we’re going to have to wipe that out,” Trump told Geraldo Rivera of Fox News. “You’re going to say goodbye to that. I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs, but whoever it is, you can wave goodbye to that.”

Trump has been criticized for repeatedly bringing up the U.S. territory’s debt while addressing the humanitarian crisis the island now faces in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

“Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble,” Trump tweeted on Sept. 25.

Puerto Rico has over $70 billion in public debt. It was restructured by Congress last year in a bill that also created an control board with oversight over the island’s finances.

Trump offered no details Tuesday on how he would “wipe out” that debt.

“We are going to work something out,” Trump told Fox News. “We have to look at their whole debt structure.”

Trump has little power over Puerto Rico’s debt, which is held by investors, but his comments affected the bond market nonetheless, Larry McDonald, head of the U.S. macro strategies at ACG Analytics, told CNBC.

“This is not a dictatorship. We have bankruptcy judges and the rule of law,” McDonald said. “But it is scaring the bond market.”

Puerto Rican bonds fell to 32.75 cents from roughly 44 cents on the dollar following Trump’s remarks, according to The Wall Street Journal.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney on Wednesday attempted to walk back Trump’s comments, saying “the primary focus of the federal effort is to make sure the island is safe.”

“I wouldn’t take it word for word,” Mulvaney said, when asked by CNN’s Chris Cuomo whether Trump intended to “wipe out” Puerto Rico’s debt. “We are not going to deal right now with those fundamental difficulties that Puerto Rico had before the storm.”

This article has been updated to include Mulvaney’s comment and bond market reaction.

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Maria Lopez cries while walking from her house that was flooded after the passage of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, on September 22, 2017. Puerto Rico battled dangerous floods Friday after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, as rescuers raced against time to reach residents trapped in their homes and the death toll climbed to 33. Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello called Maria the most devastating storm in a century after it destroyed the US territory's electricity and telecommunications infrastructure.  / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL        (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Maria Lopez cries while walking from her house that was flooded after the passage of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, on September 22, 2017. Puerto Rico battled dangerous floods Friday after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, as rescuers raced against time to reach residents trapped in their homes and the death toll climbed to 33. Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello called Maria the most devastating storm in a century after it destroyed the US territory's electricity and telecommunications infrastructure. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Loiza, PUERTO RICO  SEPTEMBER 22: Aerial photo of the floadings in the costal town of Loiza, in the north shore of Puerto RicoHurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Loiza, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 22: Aerial photo of the floadings in the costal town of Loiza, in the north shore of Puerto RicoHurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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HAYALES DE COAMO, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 24: Karlian Mercado, 7, rests on the rubble that remains of her family's home after it was blown away by Hurricane Maria as it passed through the area on September 24, 2017 in Hayales de Coamo, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Irma Torres poses for a picture at her damaged house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
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Local residents react while they look at the water flowing over the road at the dam of the Guajataca lake after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guajataca, Puerto Rico September 23, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A man looks at damages on his flooded house, close to the dam of the Guajataca lake after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guajataca, Puerto Rico September 23, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
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A man sits in a wheelchair next to washing machines at a shelter after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico September 22, 2017. Picture taken September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
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People stay at the roof of a damaged house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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PUERTO RICO  SEPTEMBER 23: A devastated house in Morovis Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 23: A devastated house in Morovis Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 22: Residents line up for gasoline days after Hurricane Maria made landfall, on September 22, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Many on the island have lost power, running water, and cell phone service after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)
A car submerged in flood waters is seen close to the dam of the Guajataca lake after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guajataca, Puerto Rico September 23, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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A resident lay on a cot inside a shelter after being evacuated from a home near the damaged Guajataca Dam after Hurricane Maria in Isabella, Puerto Rico, on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. Amid their struggles to recover from�Hurricane�Maria, some Puerto Rico residents found it befuddling that President Donald Trump fired off a number of Twitter rants about professional athletes on Saturday -- yet made no mention of their dire situation. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A resident lay on a cot inside a shelter after being evacuated from a home near the damaged Guajataca Dam after Hurricane Maria in Isabella, Puerto Rico, on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. Amid their struggles to recover from�Hurricane�Maria, some Puerto Rico residents found it befuddling that President Donald Trump fired off a number of Twitter rants about professional athletes on Saturday -- yet made no mention of their dire situation. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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An aerial view shows the flooded neighbourhood of Juana Matos in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Catano, Puerto Rico, on September 22, 2017. Puerto Rico battled dangerous floods Friday after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, as rescuers raced against time to reach residents trapped in their homes and the death toll climbed to 33. Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello called Maria the most devastating storm in a century after it destroyed the US territory's electricity and telecommunications infrastructure.  / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO        (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
An aerial view shows the flooded neighbourhood of Juana Matos in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Catano, Puerto Rico, on September 22, 2017. Puerto Rico battled dangerous floods Friday after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, as rescuers raced against time to reach residents trapped in their homes and the death toll climbed to 33. Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello called Maria the most devastating storm in a century after it destroyed the US territory's electricity and telecommunications infrastructure. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)

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