Trump slams ‘in­grates’ over Puerto Rico

FEMA head: Ma­jor chal­lenges re­main on dev­as­tated isle

The Commercial Appeal - - Viewpoint -

USA TO­DAY WASH­ING­TON Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­fended his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­sponse to the hu­man­i­tar­ian dis­as­ter in Puerto Rico, dis­miss­ing any crit­ics of his re­lief ef­forts as “fake news” and “po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated in­grates.”

“We have done a great job with the al­most im­pos­si­ble sit­u­a­tion in Puerto Rico,” Trump said. “Out­side of the Fake News or po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated in­grates ... peo­ple are now start­ing to rec­og­nize the amaz­ing work that has been done by FEMA and our great Mil­i­tary.”

Trump’s com­ments fol­lowed a bar­rage of tweets Satur­day in which he di­rectly tar­geted the mayor of San Juan, Car­men Yulin Cruz, who had ques­tioned the pace of re­lief ef­forts to the is­land battered by Hur­ri­cane Maria.

Trump is sched­uled to visit the is­land Tues­day to review res­cue ef­forts. He might also visit the U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands, also un­der­go­ing a hur­ri­cane re­lief ef­fort. Puerto Rico Na­tional Guard Maj. Paul Dahlen said the pres­i­dent’s ex­pected visit is not af­fect­ing aid de­liv­er­ies or any other re­lief op­er­a­tions.

In a third tweet Sun­day morn­ing, Trump had kind words for Puerto Rico Gov. Ri­cardo Ros­sello, thank­ing him and “all of those who are work­ing so closely with our First Re­spon­ders. Fan­tas­tic job!”

Ros­sello told re­porters Sun­day that the De­fense Depart­ment has in­creased its pres­ence on the is­land. How­ever, when asked whether all build­ings were in­spected for safety as Trump had claimed, Ros­sello said: “I’m not sure about that. There are ar­eas in Puerto Rico that we haven’t got­ten in con­tact.”

FEMA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Brock Long said on “Fox News Sun­day” that re­lief ef­forts on the is­land rep­re­sent one of the most lo­gis­ti­cally chal­leng­ing un­der­tak­ings the coun­try has ever faced, par­tic­u­larly com­ing so soon on the heels of other hur­ri­canes.

He ac­knowl­edged ma­jor chal­lenges re­main and there’s still a “long way to go” but said a lot has been ac­com­plished.

Ohio Repub­li­can Gov. John Ka­sich, speak­ing on CNN, said that “it’s not ap­pro­pri­ate” for Trump to crit­i­cize pub­lic of­fi­cials who are “in the mid­dle of a dis­as­ter.”

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