Trump lashes out at San Juan mayor who begged for more help
President Donald Trump on Saturday lashed out at the mayor of San Juan and other officials in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, contemptuous of their claims of a laggard U.S. response to the natural disaster that has imperiled the island’s future.
“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,” Trump said in a series of tweets a day after the capital city’s mayor appealed for help “to save us from dying.”
“They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” Trump wrote from his New Jersey golf club.
The tweets were a biting attack on the leader of a community in crisis. After 10 days of desperation, with many still unable to access essentials including food and water, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz accused the Trump administration Friday of “killing us with the inefficiency” after Hurricane Maria. She implored the president, who is set to visit the U.S. territory Tuesday, to “make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives.”
It was an unusually pointed rebuke from the president in the heat of a disaster – a time when leaders often put aside partisan differences in the name of solidarity. But it was a reminder of Trump’s unrelenting penchant for punching back against critics, whatever the circumstances.
Trump has said he’s doing everything possible to help the “great people of PR!” and has pledged to spare no effort to help the island recover from Maria’s ruinous aftermath. He has also repeatedly applauded his government’s recovery efforts, saying military personnel and first-responders have done “an amazing job,” despite the significant logistical challenges.
Thousands more Puerto Ricans have received water and rationed food as an aid bottleneck has begun to ease. But many, especially outside the capital, remain desperate for necessities, including water, power and fuel.
Trump’s administration has tried in recent days to combat the perception that he failed to quickly grasp the magnitude of Maria’s destruction and has given the U.S. commonwealth less attention than he’d bestowed on Texas, Louisiana and Florida after they were hit by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Trump had repeatedly praised the residents of those states as strong and resilient, saying at one point that Texas could “handle anything.”