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A resident stands on her property after Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

An attorney at the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Inspector General said on Tuesday that the watchdog will open a probe to determine whether the White House interfered with the distribution of millions of dollars in disaster aid for Puerto Rico following 2017's Hurricane Maria, reports the Washington Post.

The backdrop: Trump's response in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria triggered concern among Democrats after he refused to allocate additional funds to the U.S. territory and chose not to visit the island ravaged by the hurricane as quickly as he had when natural disasters struck Florida and Texas. As the Post notes, "Congress has appropriated nearly $20 billion in HUD disaster relief funds for Puerto Rico, only $1.5 billion of which has been approved for spending."

Details: Kirkland said the probe comes at the request of congressional lawmakers as part of a broader look at HUD's management of disaster grants.

  • The Post reported that a "bipartisan group of lawmakers is looking into broader delays in the spending of federal aid for a number of regions struck by natural disasters, including Texas and Florida."
  • The Post also reported that HUD Secretary Ben Carson blamed Puerto Rick's “history of fiscal malfeasance," for the "additional financial controls ... to ensure this disaster recovery money is spent properly.”
  • "On Monday, the Government Accountability Office published a report finding that the federal government has been “slow” to get block grants to areas struck by disasters."

Yes, but: Kirkland told lawmakers that his office may encounter jurisdictional limitations "to look into the totality" of the administration's response. "But where we can, we have asked those questions that Congress asked us to get to the bottom of," the Post cited him saying.

Go deeper: Trump’s "A Plus treatment" highlights political approach to disaster relief

Go deeper

Most teachers are white. Most students aren't.

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

The nation's 6.6 million teacher workforce has grown more racially and ethnically diverse over the past three decades — but not nearly fast enough to keep pace with a student population that's nearing majority-minority in public schools, two new reports show.

Why it matters: The disparities are especially acute between Hispanic students and teachers, and in schools with 90% or higher non-white student populations.

Updated 12 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 13 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.