As a tropical storm bore down on Puerto Rico Wednesday, President Trump reignited his ongoing feud with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, calling her “incompetent.” But his specific complaint had to do with what he considers her ingratitude for the help the island received after the devastating Hurricane Maria two years ago.
“We are tracking closely tropical storm Dorian as it heads, as usual, to Puerto Rico. FEMA and all others are ready, and will do a great job. When they do, let them know it, and give them a big Thank You — Not like last time. That includes from the incompetent Mayor of San Juan!” Trump tweeted Wednesday.
In a later tweet he attacked the entire U.S. territory, saying, “Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth. Their political system is broken and their politicians are either Incompetent or Corrupt.”
“And by the way, I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to Puerto Rico!” Trump added.
Dorian was still a tropical storm as of Wednesday morning, but forecasters said it could strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane as it approaches the island. Contrary to Trump, hurricanes do not usually hit Puerto Rico; Maria was the first one since 1998.
Trump’s comments came after Cruz responded to the president’s claim that Puerto Rico misused billions of dollars in disaster relief funds.
“Wow! Yet another big storm heading to Puerto Rico. Will it ever end?” Trump said Tuesday. “Congress approved 92 Billion Dollars for Puerto Rico last year, an all time record of its kind for anywhere.”
"Will his racism and his vindictive behavior toward the people of Puerto Rico ever end?” Cruz asked CNN host John Berman during an interview on Tuesday evening. “As you have said, this is not how a president behaves. This is not how a human behaves in the face of adversity."
Cruz tweeted: “It is reprehensible that yet again @realDonaldTrump chooses to lie. Will it ever end? Congress has approved $40b and $14b have been disbursed. Would it be too much to ask for you to act Presidential and do your job without a lie or an insult?”
A year after Hurricane Maria struck as a Category 4 storm, Trump said Democrats had inflated the death toll number to nearly 3,000 “to make me look as bad as possible” and repeatedly accused Puerto Rico officials of “trying to use the massive and ridiculously high amounts of hurricane/disaster funding to pay off other obligations.”
Trump, who days earlier touted himself as “an environmentalist” and reportedly floated the idea of trying to deter hurricanes with nuclear bombs, has denied any responsibility for the slow response to Puerto Rico disasters, blaming Puerto Rican leaders and the island's infrastructure. Earlier this month, following a recent scandal involving the governor of Puerto Rico and misuse of federal contracts, the Trump administration moved to restrict billions of dollars in federal disaster aid for Puerto Rico, according to the Washington Post.
“It seems like some people have learned the lessons of the past or are willing to say that they didn’t do right by us the first time and they are trying to do their best,” Cruz said Tuesday evening. “That is not the case with the president of the United States.”
“Three thousand Puerto Ricans did not open their eyes this morning because this racist man did not have it within him to do his job,” she added. “So get out of the way, President Trump, and let the people that can do the job get the job done.”
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