In a new and damning report from The Washington Post, President Trump had other priorities the week Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, but it had nothing to do with government affairs.
Just a day after the hurricane hit the island on Wednesday, September 20, Trump reportedly took off to New Jersey for a weekend at his private golf club. He did however manage to attend a political rally in Alabama during his time away.
The weekend getaway coincided with a period where Trump didn’t say a word about the disaster, only until about 4 days later when he mentioned it on Twitter. But as a humanitarian crisis unfolded, Trump spent his time in New Jersey escalating the war of rhetoric with North Korea and attacking kneeling NFL players.
According to the Post’s report, the relief effort was pretty much rudderless for those few days.
From The Washington Post:
Even though local officials had said publicly as early as Sept. 20, the day of the storm, that the island was “destroyed,” the sense of urgency didn’t begin to penetrate the White House until Monday, when images of the utter destruction and desperation — and criticism of the administration’s response — began to appear on television, one senior administration official said.
The first Florida lawmaker of Puerto Rican descent said Trump’s dillydallying lost valuable time.
“The Trump administration was slow off the mark,” said Rep. Darren Soto (D). “…We’ve invaded small countries faster than we’ve been helping American citizens in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.”
The Post’s report continues:
Trump’s public schedule Monday was devoid of any meetings related to the storm, but he was becoming frustrated by the coverage he was seeing on TV, the senior official said.
Trump has since praised his administration’s response to Puerto Rico, telling reporters Friday that it has “been incredible the results that we’ve had with respect to loss of life” in Puerto Rico. Currently the official death toll is 16, but it’s expected to rise.
Before taking off for another weekend at his gold club, Trump told reporters that “the government of Puerto Rico will have to work with us to determine how this massive rebuilding effort … will be funded and organized.” He also referred to the “tremendous amount of existing debt” on the island.
But those words didn’t comfort San Juan’s mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, whose pleas in an emotional viral video from this Friday drove home the severity of the situation.”We’re dying here,” she said to reporters, and presumably Trump.
“I am asking the president of the United States to make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives,” Cruz said.
“I am done being polite, I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell. … We are dying here. If we don’t get the food and the water into the people’s hands, we are going to see something close to a genocide.”
Featured image via Steve Jurvetson