Trump joked about trading Puerto Rico for Greenland: New York Times

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE, who sparked controversy with this comments about purchasing Greenland, at one point joked about trading Puerto Rico for the Danish territory, a former White House official told The New York Times

Trump joked about trading the American territory for Greenland last year, according to the former official, who reportedly overheard the president. 

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Trump has frequently sparred with Puerto Rican politicians, calling them "corrupt." Trump has repeatedly made the incorrect claim the island received $92 billion in disaster relief for Hurricane Maria, and Puerto Rican officials have criticized the president for not doing more in the aftermath of the 2017 natural disaster, which devastated the island. His behavior during a visit after the storm, when he flipped rolls of paper towels into the crowd, was also criticized by Puerto Rican officials.

Spokespeople for the White House and Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vásquez, who was appointed to the position earlier this month, did not immediately respond to comment on Trump's reported comments. 

Trump postponed a state visit to Denmark after Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Tuesday that Trump's suggestion that the U.S. might be interested in purchasing Greenland is “absurd.” 

“Greenland is not Danish. Greenland is Greenlandic. I persistently hope that this is not something that is seriously meant," Frederiksen told reporters.

Trump defended his decision to cancel the visit on Wednesday, telling reporters Frederiksen’s comment “was a very not nice way of saying something.”

“They could have told me no,” Trump said. 

“All they had to say was we’d rather not do that,” he added. “Don’t say, what an absurd idea that is.”

His interest in purchasing Greenland even stunned foreign policy experts. 

Reports first emerged at the end of last week that Trump had expressed interest in purchasing Greenland. The president spoke publicly of the possibility on Sunday.