• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Trump Tweets Insults At Mayor Of San Juan While Puerto Rico Continues To Suffer Maria’s Impact

Trump Twitter

While Puerto Rico continues its struggle to recover from the devasting blow that Hurricane Maria had on the island, President Trump has decided that now is the perfect time to attack the Mayor of San Juan, who has become especially critical of the Federal response to the emergency that exists on the island that is home to more than 3.4 million American citizens:

WASHINGTON — President Trump lashed out at the mayor of San Juan on Saturday for criticizing his administration’s efforts to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, accusing her of “poor leadership” and implying that the island, which lacks electricity and has limited cellphone service, water and fuel, was not doing enough to help itself.

In a series of early-morning messages on Twitter from his New Jersey golf club, where he is spending the weekend, Mr. Trump dismissed the statements by the capital’s mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, as political and asserted that his administration had organized a response by federal workers who are “doing a fantastic job.”

Mr. Trump said his critics in Puerto Rico should not depend entirely on the federal government. “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” he wrote. “10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job. The military and first responders, despite no electric, roads, phones etc., have done an amazing job. Puerto Rico was totally destroyed.”

The seemingly slow response to the hurricane in Puerto Rico, an American territory — especially compared with the federal response to storms in Texas and Florida — threatened to become a political disaster for Mr. Trump as critics compared it to President George W. Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Mr. Trump has alternated between expressions of resolve and concern on the one hand and angry recriminations against critics on the other.

Ms. Cruz became a powerful voice of grievance on Friday when she went on television to plead for help and reject assertions by the Trump administration about how well it was responding. She was incensed by comments made by Elaine Duke, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, who had said on Thursday that it was “really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths” from the hurricane.

“This is, dammit, this is not a good news story,” Ms. Cruz said on CNN. “This is a ‘people are dying’ story. This is a ‘life or death’ story. This is ‘there’s a truckload of stuff that cannot be taken to people’ story. This is a story of a devastation that continues to worsen.”

Ms. Duke traveled to Puerto Rico on Friday and tried to smooth over the flap, agreeing that the situation on the ground “is not satisfactory.”

Ms. Cruz, a member of the Popular Democratic Party, which advocates maintaining the island’s commonwealth status, was unmollified and went back on CNN on Friday night to continue her pleas for help.

“People are drinking out of creeks here in San Juan,” Ms. Cruz, wearing a black T-shirt that said, “Help Us, We Are Dying,” told the host Anderson Cooper. “You have people that are in buildings, and they’re sort of becoming caged in their own buildings — old people, retired people that just don’t have any electricity.”

Here are the Trump tweets in question:

There’s no question that the Mayor of San Juan was being especially passionate in her statements over the past several days regarding the conditions on the ground, but that is perfectly understandable given the situation that she and the other leaders in Puerto Rico are facing on the ground. It’s been more than a week since Maria struck the island head-on and the impact has been devastating. Power remains down for the vast majority of Puerto Ricans, and large parts of the island are without running water or sanitation services. Phone lines are down and cellular phone service is spotty due to both to downed towers and a lack of power for the remaining towers to run. Bridges and roads in the more remote parts of the island remain impassible, making it impossible for authorities to get there. Hospitals are still largely running on generator power and residents are spending most of their days standing in lines for gas, water, food, and other essentials of life. Meanwhile, getting essential supplies to the island has been made difficult due to both the existence of the Jones Act, which requires shipping between American ports to be carried on American-flagged vessels, and to the fact that there are not enough trucks or drivers to handle the thousands of containers of supplies that have already been delivered to San Juan’s port and distribute their contents around the island. While President Trump did finally waive the Jones Act for the remainder of the State of Emergency in Puerto Rico, that doesn’t deal with what happens after the ships arrive in port, and it doesn’t clear the containers that are already taking up space in those ports to make room for additional supplies. Add into this Puerto Rico’s ongoing financial crisis, and the situation the island faces is grim indeed. There are already sixteen people confirmed dead as a result of the storm and it’s aftermath, and it seems likely that this number will climb.

As Jazz Shaw notes, this is yet another example of Trump lashing out on Twitter in a way that promises to undo whatever goodwill he may have built up in the wake of what has been a largely successful Federal response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida:

While such concerns are absolutely meaningless compared to the real world disaster unfolding in Puerto Rico, the politics and the optics of this are particularly bad. Trump had won high marks pretty much across the board for the federal response in Texas and Florida after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

(…)

Accusing the Mayor of bowing to political pressure and attacking him for partisan reasons (even if there clearly might have been more than a hint of that in play) is simply going to be viewed as callous. And calling out her “failed leadership” in getting her own people working on recovery was simply ugly. You can already see the comparisons that will be made at the Washington Post and the New York Times when they remind everyone that Puerto Rico is filled with brown skinned people while many of those affected in Florida and Texas were white. Add to that the fact that Trump is tweeting all of this from the golf course in New Jersey where he’s spending the weekend and you couldn’t write a better script for the Democrats and the liberal media if you brought in Oliver Stone to head up the project.

All of this is, of course, typical Trump. Throughout the eight months of his Presidency, he has without fail managed to step on whatever message his staff was attempting to communicate during a given week (he basically ruined “Infrastructure Week” with his Charlottesville comments, for example) and destroying whatever goodwill he may have started to build up with either the media or those significant segments of the American public that did not vote for him last year and don’t support him now. This is a prime example of that, of course, but it’s also yet another example of the fact that, in the end, the real Donald Trump will always be there regardless of how much Chief of Staff or other White House staff to steer him in a less self-destructive direction. This is, in other words, the real Donald Trump and it will continue to resurface as long as he’s President. This is especially true given the fact that Trump’s base, which seems to be the only group whose loyalty he is ultimately concerned about, will stand by him no matter how outrageous he becomes or who he attacks. Indeed, I don’t think it’s out of line to suggest that large segments of that base don’t really care about the fate of Puerto Rico and that Trump really isn’t burning any bridges among that group when he tweets while millions of American citizens suffer through one of the worst storms to hit American territory since Katrina.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    Doug, I think that a great deal of the reason that Trump’s fan club doesn’t care about Puerto Rico is that its inhabitants are largely dark-skinned, Hispanic, and Afro-Hispanic. Some of the Trumpkins probably aren’t aware that Puerto Ricans are actually U.S. citizens.

    As for Trump himself? Just when you think he couldn’t possibly get any trashier…he gets trashier.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 1

  2. RM says:

    Trump didn’t make this political, the mayor of San Juan did. The federal gov’t is doing everything it can to help the american citizens of Puerto Rico. Most of the complaints are from media/people who hate Trump and would do anything they can to put him in a bad light. And anyone who would imply that there is a racist element just shows that they don’t have any real argument.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 58

  3. James in Bremerton says:

    The moribund GOP is 100% responsible for every hour they let this dangerous shitshow continue.

    The utter lack of plain, decent human empathy has grown criminally insane.

    Such as RM’s comments, above.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 1

  4. Ben Wolf says:

    @RM:

    The federal gov’t is doing everything it can to help the american citizens of Puerto Rico.

    No they aren’t.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 1

  5. Gustopher says:

    Incompetence mixed with malice.

    I suspect we will get very tired of this Trump cocktail before the administration is over.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  6. Bill says:

    @Gustopher:

    I suspect we will get very tired of this Trump cocktail before the administration is over.

    Already am tired of it. Is it 2021 yet?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  7. James Pearce says:

    @RM:

    Trump didn’t make this political, the mayor of San Juan did.

    What a pathetic excuse. Trump is president of the United States and he’s bickering on Twitter with a mayor? It’s childish, unprofessional, unhelpful, and frankly beneath him.

    Bootlickers gotta lick boots, though, huh?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 1

  8. Mister Bluster says:

    @James Pearce:.. and frankly beneath him.
    No it is not beneath him.
    “Grab them by the pussy!” Kim Jong Trump

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  9. Mikey says:

    This proves once again it’s impossible to set the bar so low Trump won’t fail to meet it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  10. Mikey says:

    @RM: Every word of your comment is bullshit, including “and” and “the.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  11. Gustopher says:

    “people can’t believe how successful it’s been” — Donald Trump referring to the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.

    I assume he is referring to people without power, water, food and shelter, who are having a hard time believing that this is a successful effort.

    It’s a major disaster, on the heels of two other major disasters, and inconveniently located — it’s not going to go perfectly (or even necessarily well) under even competent leadership. But the way to do better isn’t to claim it’s going great and insult anyone who knows it isn’t going great.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  12. Davebo says:
  13. Davebo says:

    @RM: Exactly what did she say that lead you to that conclusion?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  14. teve tory says:

    RM probly stands for Russian Minion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  15. teve tory says:

    People are dying in Puerto Rico and trump is trying to make it all about him. What a disgrace.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  16. RM says:

    @Ben Wolf: OK, since you are so definite, what should the feds be doing that they aren’t

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 18

  17. Gustopher says:

    This is, in other words, the real Donald Trump and it will continue to resurface as long as he’s President. This is especially true given the fact that Trump’s base, which seems to be the only group whose loyalty he is ultimately concerned about, will stand by him no matter how outrageous he becomes or who he attacks. Indeed, I don’t think it’s out of line to suggest that large segments of that base don’t really care about the fate of Puerto Rico and that Trump really isn’t burning any bridges among that group when he tweets while millions of American citizens suffer through one of the worst storms to hit American territory since Katrina.

    Have we ever had a President who was only the President for his supporters (and only when they support him) before? I don’t think we have during my lifetime — we’ve had some who had no idea what to do about cities or rural areas and so basically ignored them unless there was a crisis, but they all tried to be a president for everyone, or at least 70-80% of everyone. They all reached out to the majority of Americans, or at least attempted to.

    Even looking at the losing candidates, presidential and vice, the only other similar candidate I can think of is Sarah Palin.

    We’ve had assorted congresscritters who were that way, but they were always rejected on the national stage even by their own party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  18. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:

    Have we ever had a president who held campaign rallies even well after he was elected, as Trump does, just so he could get that vital injection of slobbering devotion? The man’s an adoration junky. Criticize him and it’s as if you’d accused him of having a one-inch-long penis. He has to attack the critic and then rush out and find someone who’ll tell him he has the biggest dick on the planet.

    He plays to his base of moronic cultists because that’s what he needs to reassure himself of his uber-masculinity.

    You can bet he’ll be holding another rally a week or so from now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  19. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mikey:

    This proves once again it’s impossible to set the bar so low Trump won’t fail to meet it.

    Trump should enter a limbo contest, he could slither under a door.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  20. grumpy realist says:

    @RM: Considering that Puerto Rico is now also dealing with the threat of cholera because of the lack of drinking water and the total collapse of the medical system (little electricity for hospitals, etc.) I find your assertions that this is the best that the US can do to be frankly terrifying.

    I thought we were a First-world country. You are saying that the best we can aspire to is being a Third-world country on the verge of collapse.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  21. Hal_10000 says:

    . The federal gov’t is doing everything it can to help the american citizens of Puerto Rico.

    The response was delayed because, after initially doing the right things, Trump went on a golfing trip and spent a whole weekend doing other things. They didn’t think it was a big crisis until they saw it on television. *Now* they’re doing a lot. But the days-long delays and the failure to mobilize resources, waive the Jones Act and ask Congress for funding immediately has been costly.

    Trump’s own people are telling him it’s bad. Buchanan and Long (who has turned out to be a good appt by Trump) have been pushing hard. There aren’t enough people, aren’t enough troops, isn’t enough money, isn’t enough food.

    This isn’t anti-Trumpism. I was one of many who praised the response to Irma/Harvey. I don’t think the racism narrative helps the situation at all. But Good Lord, you can’t look at this and not conclude this is a huge problem. FEMA et al. were able to run on autopilot for Irma/Harvey. The couldn’t with this. And it’s showing.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  22. Gromitt Gunn says:

    You’re doing a heckuva job, Trumpy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  23. teve tory says:

    Maybe trump could fully staff FEMA?

    Weren’t the republicans coming up with a budget that would cut FEMA’s funding?

    It would be a shitty thing to do so of course they will.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  24. Bob@Youngstown says:

    what should the feds be doing that they aren’t

    Cut the bureaucratic red tape.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  25. An Interested Party says:

    Surely no one is surprised by all of this…I mean, what did people think would happen when a reality TV star became president? I wonder how many people who voted for this chump are now regretting their vote…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  26. teve tory says:

    During the height of the Berlin Airlift we flew a new plane loaded with supplies every 45 seconds

    More of that please.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  27. Slugger says:

    Trump insulted someone? I watched the GOP candidates’ debates. Trump insulted everybody. Cruz, McCain, Rubio, everybody. Since his accession to the Presidency, he has insulted people outside his circle and has not spared Republicans like McConnell or Sessions. Insulting people is what he does; it is his superpower. The only person who seems to have some Trump-insult kryptonite is Putin. Surely that is what his supporters love about him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  28. Kylopod says:

    @CSK:

    Some of the Trumpkins probably aren’t aware that Puerto Ricans are actually U.S. citizens.

    Some?

    “A new poll of 2,200 adults by Morning Consult found that only 54 percent of Americans know that people born in Puerto Rico, a commonwealth of the United States, are U.S. citizens.”

    The poll doesn’t contain a breakdown by political affiliation, but I suspect the percentage who don’t know is much higher among Republicans, and Trump supporters in particular.

    Of course, I’m sure there are a significant amount of Americans who are vaguely aware Puerto Rico is US territory but who still don’t consider them “real Americans.” I suspect that’s the case with the president.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  29. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: Soooooo much winning…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  30. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Remember the days when we were the “can-do” nation? When we got shit done? When we made it happen? Remember when that meant something? When we were – what’s the word? right on the tip of my tongue; give me a minute; oh yeah now I got it – GREAT?

    This is exactly the kind of operation we’re supposed to be good at. It’s like basic competence got outlawed back in January or something.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  31. Terrye Cravens says:

    @RM: Well for one thing, they could have been as prepared for this as they were for Irma…for another, Trump could have stayed off of twitter and dealt with the mayor with a modicum of decorum. But no, he had to show his ass, as usual. That is no one’s fault but his own. No one is perfect, but Trump goes out of his way to be obnoxious.

    Good God, the man tweeted from his golf course in NJ raving about how the people of Puerto Rico want everything done for them when they don’t have power or clean water. What a jerk.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  32. JKB says:

    During the height of the Berlin Airlift we flew a new plane loaded with supplies every 45 seconds

    the problem isn’t getting supplies to Puerto Rico but getting them out of the port. Puerto Rico’s roads and electrical grid were antiquated from decades of neglect by the local politicians, Democrats mostly. So moving the goods to where they are needed is the problem.

    Of course, Trump deployed two Helo carriers (LPH) and a landing ship dock, very large can capable amphibious ships, to the area ahead of the storm. They have onboard hospitals and 150 ton per trip small boat cargo capability in addition to being able to handle the heaviest helos.

    And had the Puerto Rican politicians not pushed so hard to get the Navy out, there would be a large naval presence and functioning base for the rescue operations to operate out of.

    Interestingly, the t-shirt shack in San Juan seems to be back in operation or where did the mayor get her new “We are dying” t-shirt. CNN’s Anderson Cooper maybe?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 20

  33. David M says:

    @Hal_10000:

    FEMA et al. were able to run on autopilot for Irma/Harvey. The couldn’t with this. And it’s showing.

    This. 1000 times this. I don’t think anything else really explains what we’re seeing. None of the “Trump doesn’t like brown people, doesn’t know PR is part of the USA, that they are Americans, that they don’t have electoral votes, etc” actually matter. They are assuming a level of competence and self-awareness on Trump’s part that DOESN’T EXIST.

    Trump is a fake TV “president” that tweets garbage and loves watching Fox News. That’s what he does, so if the job requires something else, he can’t/won’t do it. Not because he secretly wants to punish some group, but because he is literally incapable of understanding or executing the job of being President. It’s really as simple as understanding the entire endeavor is beyond him (so, so far beyond him).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  34. JKB says:

    @David M:

    Funny, the port is overflowing with containers filled with supplies. Can’t find truck drivers as only 20% of the drivers have shown up for work. Reports, possibly partisan, that the Teamsters are holding the relief hostage to do some price gouging. Also, still a lot of bridges out and road debris.

    These things holding up the last mile of the relief efforts are areas that fall squarely in the bailiwick of the local authorities. The San Juan mayor is proving incompetent, other mayors not so much. This mayor spending her time on TV rather than doing her job has refused to attend FEMA coordination meetings.

    By Thursday, I predict yet another fake news story against Trump will be refuted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 12

  35. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Thanks to JKB for reciting all the right wing talking points so concisely so we don’t have to. (In case you’re too much of a Trumptard to figure it out, JKB, this is sarcasm.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  36. JKB says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    Talking points? Mostly just facts, such as the lack of drivers, damaged roads and the overflowing port.

    Another fact that seems confused to those whose vision is colored here, is that Puerto Rico is by overwhelming majority, racially White, mostly of Spanish origin. Ethnically, Hispanic, but racially White.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  37. Brooklyn Dave says:

    @JKB: Facts? It’s pretty noticeable you don’t cite sources.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  38. Mikey says:

    @JKB:

    This mayor spending her time on TV rather than doing her job

    She’s wading through hip-deep contaminated water coordinating relief efforts while Trump tweets from the golf course.

    He could have been leading early, but instead he was more concerned with riling up his racist base with bullshit about kneeling football players. So that’s where he put his attention, rather than on the 3.5 million Americans who were about to get their lives obliterated by a Category 5 hurricane.

    And you’ve made it obvious once again that there’s no level to which Trump will sink that won’t also find you down with him, giving his dirty boot a loving tongue bath.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  39. David M says:

    @JKB:

    The job isn’t drop stuff off in the port and call it good. The job is actually responding to the emergency, fixing services and getting aid to the people who need it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  40. JohnMcC says:

    @David M: But that has to wait until our friend makes the definitive definition of which race the islands are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  41. Anonne says:

    We pay $600B for our military and we can’t get more than 10k troops and a few helicopters down there?

    LTG Ret. Russel Honore, who ran the Katrina cleanup, said that this situation was twice as bad as Katrina. He also said that they started moving 4 days too late and needed twice the personnel that he had for Katrina for Puerto Rico.

    The fact that the roads are crap is an obstacle but it’s not for the government to just throw their damn hands up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. al-Ameda says:

    Trump on Puerto Rican crisis:

    ‘This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water’.

    Not to nitpick but, I’m sure he intended to say ‘big waterly water.’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. very good and awesome information i am complete reed article thank you

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0