UPDATED: President Donald Trump lashed out at the mayor of San Juan and “others in Puerto Rico” for their response to Hurricane Maria, saying that “they want everything done for them when it should be a community effort.”
Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, which is the island’s largest city, has pleaded for assistance in a number of media interviews, warning that there is an unfolding humanitarian crisis on the island. She also chided Trump’s Homeland Security chief, Elaine Duke, for characterizing the relief efforts as a “good news story.”
There has been increasing media focus on Trump’s response, or lack thereof, to the hurricane in the few days after it blew through Puerto Rico. Last weekend, Trump tweeted extensively about the NFL and player protests, but did not address the damage and devastation on the island, which is an American territory.
On Saturday, Trump claimed that Cruz was showing “poor leadership ability” along with others, and that they “are not able to get their workers to help.” He also claimed that she “has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.” He defended the federal response, and said that first responders were doing a “fantastic job.”
Trump also addressed the media coverage of the disaster response. He said that “Fake News CNN and NBC are going out of their way to disparage our great first responders as a way to ‘Get Trump.’ Not fair to FR or effort!” He also wrote, “The Fake News Networks are working overtime in Puerto Rico doing their best to take the spirit away from our soldiers and first R’s. Shame!”
Cruz responded to Trump’s tweets with one of her own, writing that “the goal is one: saving lives.” She added that “this is the time to show our ‘true colors.’ We cannot be distracted by anything else.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper commented that “this is not about spinning and telling the base that all is great. It’s about food and water and fuel for Americans in need.” He also noted that Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, Commander of Joint Force Land Component Command, said the 5,000 troops in Puerto Rico were not enough.
Trump’s tweets about the local response drew a sharp response from “Hamilton” star Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote on Twitter, “Did you tweet this one from the first hole, 18th hole, or the club? Anyway, it’s a lie.” Miranda is of Puerto Rican descent, and has been trying to call attention to the crisis in Puerto Rico.
Trump is spending the weekend at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J. He is scheduled to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday.
Trump followed up his comments with a few more tweets Saturday afternoon, blaming the “#FakeNews” for the negative perception of the government’s response to Puerto Rico and imploring Puerto Ricans not to believe it.
Also later in Saturday afternoon, Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for Puerto Rico, writing to Cruz, “Don’t let anyone make you feel alone. We are with you and Puerto Rico.”