Trump: Only 'politically motivated ingrates' can't see we're doing a great job in Puerto Rico

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

President Trump continues to praise his administration’s response to the humanitarian crisis in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico — and dismiss his critics as ungrateful.

“We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets early Sunday. “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. All buildings now inspected for safety.”

Trump added: “Thank you to the Governor of P.R. and to all of those who are working so closely with our First Responders. Fantastic job!”

The tweets came a day after the president attacked San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz over what he implied was insufficient gratitude for the federal help in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which tore across the U.S. island territory on Sept. 20, killing at least 16 people and leaving millions without power, food and water.

“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” Trump wrote on Twitter early Saturday. “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.”

It’s not clear what, exactly, caused Trump to lash out against Cruz. During a CNN interview the day before, Cruz was asked to react to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke’s assertion that the White House’s response to the storm was a “good-news story” because of the “limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane.”

“Well, maybe from where she’s standing it’s a good-news story,” Cruz said. “When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a good-news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good-news story. When you have to pull people down from their buildings — I’m sorry, but that really upsets and frustrates me. I would ask her to come down here and visit the towns and then make a statement like that, which frankly is an irresponsible statement.”

Related: San Juan mayor: ‘This not a good-news story when people are dying’

“Dammit, this is not a good-news story, this is a people-are-dying story,” an emotional Cruz continued. “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 devastation that continues to worsen because people are not getting food or water. If I could scream it a lot more louder: It is not a good-news story when people are dying when they don’t have dialysis, when their generators aren’t working and their oxygen isn’t providing for them.”

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was asked why Trump did not show more “empathy” for Cruz’s situation.

“When the president gets attacked, he attacks back,” Mnuchin replied. “And I think the mayor’s comments were unfair, given what the federal government has done.”

On ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, Cruz responded to Trump’s tweeted attack.

“There’s only one goal, and it’s saving lives,” she said. “All I did last week, or even this week, was ask for help.”

“People are being told to register via Internet for FEMA relief, when we don’t have any Internet or very little Internet, even in the San Juan metropolitan area,” Cruz explained. “I recognize the good heart that the FEMA people have. They want to help. But they just don’t have the resources, and it’s not me who’s saying it.”

Cruz also criticized Trump’s suggestion that Puerto Rico’s debt is complicating federal relief efforts.

“Let us not talk about the debt, let us not talk about the cost of reconstruction,” she said. “Let us talk about saving lives.”

Trump is scheduled to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday, and Cruz said she would have no problem meeting with him.

“If he asks to meet with me, of course I would,” she said.

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