Trump ac­cuses Puerto Rico mayor of ‘poor lead­er­ship’

Pres­i­dent praises fed­eral re­sponse, says is­lan­ders want ‘ev­ery­thing done for them’

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page -

USA TO­DAY SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO Pres­i­dent Donald Trump blasted the in­creas­ingly crit­i­cal mayor of this cap­i­tal city Satur­day for “poor lead­er­ship abil­ity” in not be­ing able to “get their work­ers to help” in hur­ri­cane re­lief, say­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is do­ing a “fan­tas­tic job.”

The pres­i­dent said San Juan Mayor Car­men Yulin Cruz had been com­pli­men­tary to him only a few days ago, but “has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.” He said the mayor and “oth­ers” on the is­land “want ev­ery­thing done for them.”

In a se­ries of tweets, he also slammed “Fake News CNN and NBC,” which he said “are going out of their way to dis­par­age our great First Re­spon­ders as a way to ‘get Trump.’ ”

Hur­ri­cane Maria killed at least 16 peo­ple on the is­land when the storm hit Sept. 20.

Cruz, in emo­tional ap­peals on TV on Fri­day, has be­come the face of Puerto Ri­can of­fi­cials dis­traught over what some say is an in­suf­fi­cient re­sponse by the U.S. gov­ern­ment.

While Trump de­scribed the fed­eral re­sponse as “amaz­ing,” Cruz pub­licly called on the pres­i­dent to speed up the de­liv­ery of food, water, medicine and fuel, and “to make sure some­body is in charge that is up to the task of sav­ing lives.”

“I will do what I never thought I was going to do. I am beg­ging, beg­ging any­one who can hear us to save us from dy­ing,” Cruz said Fri­day. “If any­body out there is lis­ten­ing to us, we are dy­ing, and you are killing us with the in­ef­fi­ciency.”

Cruz, in a Satur­day ap­pear­ance on MSNBC’s “AM Joy,” said it wasn’t just her say­ing the is­land needs help.

“(A) three-star gen­eral (is) say­ing we don’t have enough,” she said. “So, it’s not only me.”

While more water, food and medicine have been ar­riv­ing on the is­land of 3.4 mil­lion as a dis­tri­bu­tion bot­tle­neck eases, many — par­tic­u­larly in re­mote and moun­tain­ous ar­eas — re­main des­per­ate for water and other ne­ces­si­ties.

Trump un­leashed a se­ries of tweets Satur­day morn­ing, say­ing, “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. 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.”

Five hours later, he came back with a slightly softer tone re­gard­ing fel­low Amer­i­cans on the U.S. ter­ri­tory: “De­spite the Fake News Me­dia in con­junc­tion with the Dems, an amaz­ing job is be­ing done in Puerto Rico. Great peo­ple!”

Cruz was par­tic­u­larly pointed in re­ject­ing a statement by act­ing Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Elaine Duke, who called the gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse “a good news story in terms of our abil­ity to reach peo­ple and the limited number of deaths that have taken place.”

The mayor re­torted: “This is, damn it, this is not a good news story. This is a ‘peo­ple are dy­ing’ story. This is a ‘life or death’ story. This is ‘there’s a truck­load of stuff that can­not be taken to peo­ple’ story. This is a story of a dev­as­ta­tion that con­tin­ues to worsen.”


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