Trump: Puerto Ri­can mayor is ‘nasty’ to him

Pres­i­dent blasts U.S. ter­ri­tory of­fi­cial, says feds do­ing ‘fan­tas­tic job’

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - FRONT PAGE - Oren Dorell and Doug Stan­glin

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO Pres­i­dent 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.’ ” He said the re­ports were not fair to re­spon­ders or their ef­forts.

Five hours later, a sec­ond set of tweets from Trump set a some­what softer tone: “To the peo­ple of Puerto Rico: Do not be­lieve the #FakeNews! #PRStrong,” the pres­i­dent tweeted. “We must all be united in of­fer­ing as­sis­tance to ev­ery­one suf­fer­ing in Puerto Rico and else­where in the wake of this ter­ri­ble disas­ter.”

Cruz, in emo­tional ap­peals on TV on Fri­day, has be­come the face of Puerto Ri­can of­fi­cials dis­traught about what some charge is an in­suf­fi­cient re­sponse by the U.S. gov­ern­ment to the cri­sis from Hur­ri­cane Maria, which has killed at least 16 peo­ple on the is­land.

While Trump de­scribed the fed­eral re­sponse as “amazing,” Cruz 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. Army Lt. Gen. Jef­frey Buchanan, the Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported, said Fri­day that there was a lack of peo­ple and as­sets to as­sist the is­land.

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

Cruz said she wouldn’t be “dis­tracted by small com­ments, by pol­i­tics, by petty is­sues. This is one goal, and it is to save lives. That’s all that mat­ters.

“Such poor lead­er­ship abil­ity by the Mayor of San Juan, and oth­ers in Puerto Rico . ... They want ev­ery­thing to be done for them.” Pres­i­dent Trump, in a se­ries of tweets

Whomever says things that can help will be praised; whomever doesn’t will not.”

Cruz said she’d be will­ing to meet with Trump when he vis­its Puerto Rico on Tues­day.

“If Mr. Trump wants to see me, I would be very glad to meet with him,” she said. “He’s the pres­i­dent of the United States. I af­ford him the same re­spect that I af­ford the leader of every other na­tion of the world that was demo­crat­i­cally elected.”

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

In the face of pointed crit­i­cism from the mayor and other Puerto Ri­can of­fi­cials, Trump un­leashed the 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.”

Celebri­ties, es­pe­cially those of Puerto Ri­can de­scent, re­acted harshly to Trump’s crit­i­cism.

“You’re go­ing straight to hell,” Hamil­ton cre­ator Lin-Manuel Mi­randa told Trump in a tweet. “No long lines for you. Some­one will say, ‘Right this way, sir.’ They’ll clear a path.”

Kim Kar­dashian West tweeted, “Please stop tweet­ing & golf­ing while peo­ple are dy­ing!”

Trump also said he and first lady Me­la­nia Trump will be trav­el­ing to Puerto Rico and pos­si­bly the U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands, which were also bat­tered by hur­ri­canes Irma and Maria. Trump said that in the Vir­gin Is­lands, “peo­ple (are) work­ing hard.”

Five hours later, he came back in an­other se­ries of tweets: “De­spite the Fake News Me­dia in con­junc­tion with the Dems, an amazing job is be­ing done in Puerto Rico. Great peo­ple!”

Trump fol­lowed that up with praise for Puerto Rico Gov. Ri­cardo Ros­selló and Con­gress­woman Jen­nifer Gon­za­lez-Colon.

Ros­selló said Satur­day that he only heard about Trump’s morn­ing tweets when a re­porter read them to him but has spo­ken mul­ti­ple times in re­cent days to the pres­i­dent, as well as Vice Pres­i­dent Pence.

“He has re­it­er­ated his com­mit­ment and that we are a pri­or­ity,” Ros­selló said at a news con­fer­ence. “And he has shown that when­ever we have asked, he has de­liv­ered.”

Ros­selló added, “The only way for this to work is to stress col­lab­o­ra­tion. I am com­mit­ted to col­lab­o­rat­ing with ev­ery­one.”

The death count is 16, but “based on the dev­as­ta­tion it will likely go up,” he said.

Ros­selló said the num­ber of open gaso­line sta­tions has in­creased from 450 four days ago to 714. He said 11 re­gional stag­ing ar­eas have been re­ceiv­ing food and wa­ter across the is­land, and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions has been re­stored in sev­eral key mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, in­clud­ing San Juan.

He also said stock­piles of fuel have in­creased to 600,000 bar­rels of diesel and 722,000 bar­rels of gaso­line.


San Juan Mayor Car­men Yulin Cruz, right, hugs Esper­anza Ruiz as she arrives at a tem­po­rary gov­ern­ment cen­ter at the Roberto Cle­mente sta­dium Satur­day in the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Maria.


Peo­ple fill bot­tles from a stream just out­side of Naran­jito. Ten days after Hur­ri­cane Maria struck, drink­ing wa­ter re­mains scarce. Res­i­dents use La Plata River for bathing and wash­ing clothes.

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