President Donald Trump slammed Puerto Rico on Thursday, saying its power grid and infrastructure were a “disaster” before two hurricanes hit last month and he threatened to pull federal emergency management workers from the storm-ravaged island.
His comments drew furious responses from Democrats who charged he is treating Americans there like “second-class citizens.”
Trump tweeted, “‘Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.’ says Sharyl Attkisson. A total lack of……..accountability say the Governor. Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes.”
(It wasn’t clear why Trump referred to Attkisson, a conservative journalist who has repeatedly defended him.)
“Congress to decide how much to spend…….We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!” Trump wrote in another Tweet.
Trump’s latest attacks on Puerto Rico immediately touched off harsh criticism from Democrats.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York tweeted a question to the president: “Why do you continue to treat Puerto Ricans differently than other Americans when it comes to natural disasters?”
“FEMA needs to stay until the job is done and right now, it’s not even close to done. There is still devastation, Americans are still dying. FEMA needs to stay until the job is done,” he added.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California posted, “We don’t abandon Americans in their time of need.”
“PR & USVI need MORE help, not less, from the federal govt,” Pelosi wrote, referring to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Rep. Darren Soto of Florida told NBC News: “Trump continues to treat Americans in Puerto Rico as second-class citizens. He wouldn’t be saying this about federal recovery efforts in Texas or Mississippi.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said: “It is shameful that President Trump is threatening to abandon these Americans when they most need the federal government’s help. He has a responsibility to our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and on the U.S. Virgin Islands to ensure that every federal resource is made available to assist in recovery and rebuilding for as long as it takes.”
Trump’s tweets come just weeks after Puerto Rico was slammed by Hurricane Maria. FEMA said that as of Tuesday, 21 days since Maria made landfall, 84 percent of people on the island remained without electricity and only 63 percent had potable water. Many others have been without housing and basic necessities.