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President Donald Trump at a briefing on Hurricane Florence in the Oval Office Tuesday. Photo: Zach Gibson /AFP/Getty Images

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported Tuesday that the Trump administration transferred $9.8 million from FEMA's budget to ICE, citing budget documents provided by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

The big picture: The slash in funding comes as the East Coast braces for Hurricane Florence, which threatens to wreak havoc within days, with two other tropical systems on the horizon. The Department of Homeland Security quickly followed up in a tweet refuting the claims, saying "The money in question — transferred to ICE from FEMA’s routine operating expenses — could not have been used for hurricane response due to appropriation limitations."

The details: Maddow said the funds may be used for additional detention camps and added that DHS did not immediately dispute the authenticity of the document. "Instead [a spokesperson] told us that the money didn't come from any of our disaster response and recovery efforts, but again, it appears that it did come from FEMA," she explained.

  • Sen. Merkley, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee said the administration has the ability to transfer funds, but it would need to inform Congress. And if the amount is over $5 million, it would have to notify the committee chair.

DHS spokesperson Tyler Houlton went on to explain, "Under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts. This is a sorry attempt to push a false agenda at a time when the administration is focused on assisting millions on the East Coast facing a catastrophic disaster."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect DHS' response.

Go deeper

Colonial Pipeline resumes normal operations after ransomware hack

A fuel tank at Colonial Pipeline's Dorsey Junction Station on May 13, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Colonial Pipeline resumed normal operations on Saturday after a ransomware attack forced the pipeline to shut down last week, the company announced.

Why it matters: The pipeline is now delivering fuel to states that had experienced gas shortages at the same capacities as before the extortion scheme hit the critical pipeline, which runs from Texas to New York and carries roughly 100 million gallons of fuel per day.

"Horrified": AP, Al Jazeera condemn Israel's bombing of their offices in Gaza

A ball of fire erupts from the Jalaa Tower as it is destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Associated Press and Al Jazeera on Saturday condemned the Israeli airstrike that destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza that housed their and other media offices.

What they're saying: The White House, meanwhile, said it had "communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility," according to press secretary Jen Psaki.

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