Trump slams ‘ingrates’ over Puerto Rico
FEMA head: Major challenges remain on devastated isle
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.”