President Donald Trump on Sunday dedicated a golf trophy to hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico as he slammed “politically motivated ingrates” in the United States’ territory.
Trump, speaking Sunday evening at the Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey, said of conditions on the island, “You see what’s happening, how horrible it is, but we have it under really great control.”
On Friday night, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz begged for help, directly asking Trump to take charge.
“We are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency,” Cruz said at a news conference. “I am begging, begging anyone that can hear us, to save us from dying.”
Earlier Sunday morning Trump defended the federal response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico in a series of tweets.
“We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico. Outside of the Fake News or politically motivated ingrates . . . people are now starting to recognize the amazing work that has been done by FEMA and our great Military,” Trump tweeted from his New Jersey golf resort.
Cruz on Sunday said she would be willing to meet with Trump during his first official visit to the island on Tuesday.
“If he asks to meet with me, of course I will meet with him,” she said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“All I did last week, or even this week, was ask for help. It has to happen in a sustained manner, it has to happen quickly,” she told host George Stephanopoulos. She also said the focus should not be on the country’s debt or infrastructure, but on saving lives.
The debilitating storm killed at least 16 people and left nearly all 3.4 million people in Puerto Rico without power and most without running water.
Trump on Saturday issued more direct criticism of Cruz and the media for not focusing on the efforts by the military and first responders.
Trump tweeted Saturday that “they want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”
On CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich criticized Trump’s tweets.
“It’s not appropriate. When people are in the middle of a disaster, you don’t criticize them,” Kasich told host Jake Tapper.
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney defended the federal response to the disaster in Puerto Rico and said the media wasn’t covering relief efforts.
When Trump tweeted that “they want everything to be done for them,” Mulvaney said Sunday on CNN, “I think what the president is trying to get at is people think this is going to be easy.”
FEMA Director Brock Long said the San Juan mayor is not in touch with the joint command in the area and doesn’t understand all that the agency is doing.
“If you’re not connected into that joint field office, then you don’t understand commanders’ intent. You don’t understand the successes of what’s been done versus what needs to be done where the gaps are,” he said on “This Week.”
Cruz had said earlier that staff members had been to the joint command area, but that she and other mayors had been told to come back for aid in a few days.
Also Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin acknowledged to “This Week” that the proposed GOP tax overhaul could more negatively impact higher-taxed states.
“I don’t think it’s fair that a bunch of other states are subsidizing New York and California,” he said, but then added that the administration is trying to make adjustments so such regions aren’t hard hit.
On CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the elimination of deductions of state and local taxes the “Achilles’ heel” of the GOP plan.