Let’s just say the relationship between President Trump and Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselló are a bit strained. The governor is none too pleased at the lack of expediency thus far in distributing hurricane relief funds. Though Congress has approved and authorized billions of dollars for Puerto Rico, President Trump has taken to voicing his concerns over the wisdom of further monetary relief for the American territory.
The governor said he’ll not allow his aides to be bullied by the Trump administration. That’s when he told CNN that he’ll “punch the bully in the mouth.” The bully, of course, is President Trump. Who’s this guy been talking to anyway? Joe Biden?
“If the bully gets close, I’ll punch the bully in the mouth,” Rosselló said. “It would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage.”
Rosselló’s top aides told CNN that during a tense encounter at the White House on Wednesday they were warned by senior White House officials that representatives for the US territory were pushing too hard to arrange a meeting aimed at discussing the island’s dire situation with the President.
Despite their requests, Trump has declined to schedule a meeting with Rosselló to discuss recovery efforts that are ongoing nearly two years after the storm hit.
Rossello’s aides have been pushing for a meeting between President Trump and Governor Rossello, unsuccessfully so far. His aides told the governor (and CNN) that they were bullied in their last meeting a few days ago by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro and other senior members of the Trump administration. Though the aides say Navarro insisted that they stop requesting a meeting with President Trump the White House denies it. (CNN)
A White House official denied that Puerto Rican officials were told to stop requesting a meeting with the President. And a spokesman said the administration would continue working with Rosselló and his aides on recovery efforts. But he stopped short of saying definitively the President would meet with the governor in the future.
“The White House recently helped set up important meetings between Governor Rossello and HUD and FEMA leadership. We understand that the governor is not visiting until later in April and we look forward to once again helping set up productive conversations with Administration leaders to discuss the island’s recovery,” the spokesman Judd Deere said.
Then on Thursday, President Trump told reporters at the White House, “Puerto Rico has been taken care of better by Donald Trump than by any living human being and I think the people of Puerto Rico understand.” That’s when Trump’s nemesis, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto pounced.
“When faced with a devastating human crisis, Trump augmented it because he made it about himself, not about saving our lives,” she said. “When expected to show empathy, he showed disdain and lack of respect; it seems to be too hard for Trump to know the facts, so he continues to lie about the aid sent to Puerto Rico and about the federal inadequacy towards Puerto Rico.”
That’s hogwash. The Mayor of San Juan was nothing but incompetent during Hurricane Maria. She reminded me a lot of Louisiana’s former Governor Kathleen Blanco’s performance during Hurricane Katrina. Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto was too busy fighting to prove she’s the boss instead of properly doing her job. President Trump visited Puerto Rico when the conditions were such that he could and the people were happy to see him. The truth is that much of Puerto Rico suffered from a lack of basic infrastructure and the hurricane devastated the island. President Trump did all he could and FEMA did, too. Emergency relief funds were allocated. Now, President Trump is asking if the money is being spent wisely. That’s a legitimate question, especially given the rampant corruption that was exposed in Hurricane Maria’s aftermath. Remember all the relief materials just backed up and waiting to be unloaded on the docks? Unions were on strike and everything just sat there while people went searching for building materials and other necessities needed to clean up and rebuild their homes. The Mayor of San Juan should concern herself with her own leadership abilities.
If it’s any comfort to the impatient Puerto Rican governor, Houston is still waiting for the remainder of the funds approved by Congress, too, after Hurricane Harvey hit the city. Hurricane Harvey struck before Hurricane Maria, I might add. The difference is that Houstonians picked themselves up and got on with the recovery instead of sitting around and waiting for someone else to do something. I haven’t heard of any Houston officials threatening to punch President Trump.
This is sure to get President Trump's attention — Puerto Rico's Gov Ricardo Rossello tells @Acosta in an exclusive interview that he won't be bullied by the White House: "If the bully gets close, I'll punch the bully in the mouth." https://t.co/URXxBbBPhU
— Sarah Westwood (@sarahcwestwood) March 28, 2019