- Alex Wong/Getty Images
President Donald Trump doubled down on defense of his administration’s response to the devastation in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria, urging Americans not to believe the “Fake News or politically motivated ingrates.”
In a series of tweets Sunday morning, Trump said his administration has done a “great job” with hurricane response on the island.
“People are now starting to recognize the amazing work that has been done by FEMA and our great Military,” Trump tweeted. “All buildings now inspected for safety. Thank you to the Governor of P.R. and to all of those who are working so closely with our First Responders. Fantastic job!”
On Twitter Saturday, the president unleashed on those criticizing his administration’s slow response to provide food, water, electricity, and other basic necessities to the commonwealth’s 3.4 million US citizens.
“Results of recovery efforts will speak much louder than complaints by San Juan Mayor. Doing everything we can to help great people of PR!” Trump said on Twitter.
The tweets came after Trump faced mounting criticism of his jabs at the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulîn Cruz. Cruz had told media on Friday that if Trump does not ramp up relief efforts, Puerto Rico could see “something close to a genocide.”
- Getty Images/Joe Raedle
“My Administration, Governor @RicardoRossello, and many others are working together to help the people of Puerto Rico in every way … #FakeNews critics are working overtime, but we’re getting great marks from the people that truly matter!” Trump said on Saturday.
He continued: “We must all be united in offering assistance to everyone suffering in Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the wake of this terrible disaster.”
Trump – who is spending the weekend at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey – took to Twitter to fire back, saying that Cruz, “who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.”
He continued: “Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.”
Cruz, in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Saturday evening, responded: “Maybe he’s used to women who have to be told what to do. That’s not how we are in San Juan.”
She added that she believes Trump is “looking for an excuse for things that are not going well.”
- Reuters/Alvin Baez
Trump then continued tweeting into the afternoon, praising other Puerto Rican officials, including Governor Ricardo Rossello and Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon.
Later on Saturday evening, Trump tweeted out a video featuring footage of US troops assisting Puerto Ricans, overlaid with an audio clip of Rossello praising the Trump administration’s response to the natural disaster.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2017
Trump has faced backlash in recent days for his slow response to the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico, and has been criticized for appearing less attentive to the crisis in Puerto Rico than he was to Texas and Florida after those states were ravaged by hurricanes. It’s been compared to the bungled federal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 under President George W. Bush.
Hurricane Maria engulfed the entire island with punishing Category 4 winds, rains, and storm surge on September 20, leaving 100% of Puerto Rico without power.
“They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job,” Trump said on Saturday. “The military and first responders, despite no electric, roads, phones etc., have done an amazing job. Puerto Rico was totally destroyed.”
Trump, along with First Lady Melania Trump, is set to visit the island on Tuesday.
Jeremy Berke contributed reporting.