BRANCHBURG, N.J. — President Donald Trump on Sunday scoffed at “politically motivated ingrates” who had questioned his administration’s commitment to revive Puerto Rico after a pulverizing hurricane and said the federal government had done “a great job with the almost impossible situation.”
The tweets coming from a president ensconced in his New Jersey golf club sought to defend Washington’s efforts to mobilize and coordinate recovery efforts on a U.S. territory in dire straits almost two weeks after Hurricane Maria struck.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz on Friday accused the Trump administration of “killing us with the inefficiency” after the storm. She begged the president, who is set to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday, to “make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives,” and appealed for help “to save us from dying.”
Trump’s weekend tweets have shown him to be contemptuous of their complaints of a laggard U.S. response to the natural disaster that has imperiled the island’s future.
“We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico. Outside of the Fake News or politically motivated ingrates,” he tweeted on Sunday.
He said “people are now starting to recognize the amazing work” done by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the military.
And Cruz told This Week on ABC: “”I know the good heart of the American people and I know that when a mayday sound goes off, they come to the rescue.”
The day before, Trump had tweeted: “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.”
He added: “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” Trump wrote from his club.
His critical response 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.