Why Trump flip-flopped on California disaster relief

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A crew of incarcerated firefighters returns from battling the Bruder Fire near Redlands, California. | Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

As California battles historic wildfires, Gov. Gavin Newsom is fighting for federal aid.

President Donald Trump approved a disaster declaration for California on Friday, clearing the way for the state to receive federal aid as it continues to battle a series of historic wildfires.

Usually, that would be unremarkable — as of Saturday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) listed 98 major disaster declarations this year, including in California. But Friday’s declaration by Trump comes after his Thursday decision to deny federal aid to the state.

Though California has suffered five of the six largest wildfires in recorded state history in recent weeks — including a “gigafire,” the August Complex Fire, which has already burned more than 1 million acres — FEMA said in a statement Friday to CNN that California’s “early September fires were not of such severity and magnitude to exceed the combined capabilities of the state, affected local governments, voluntary agencies and other responding federal…


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