President Donald Trump traveled to Puerto Rico Tuesday, aiming to repair the damage after more than a week of criticism of his administration’s handling of the response to the devastating impact of Hurricane Maria. But within minutes of touching down, he had caused yet more offense.
“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” he said during a briefing with local officials.
— CNN (@CNN) October 3, 2017
Trump has repeatedly lauded his administration’s response to the disaster, despite accusations, including from officials in Puerto Rico, that not enough has been done in the face of a humanitarian disaster that left much of the island without homes, power or drinking water.
After going silent on Puerto Rico in the days after the hurricane hit, Trump finally commented on Twitter by saying that Texas and Florida were “doing great” after recently being hit by hurricanes, but that “Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure and massive debt, is in deep trouble.”
Those remarks led to criticism from San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who said “let’s just talk about saving lives.” The mayor was then the subject of an attack by Trump, who slammed her for “poor leadership” and claimed that she and other officials wanted “everything to be done for them.” The two greeted each other prior to Tuesday’s briefing.
After complaining Tuesday about the hit on the federal budget, Trump opted to try and praise Puerto Ricans—by comparing the death toll from Hurricane Maria to the lives lost after Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans in 2005.
“So what’s your death count? Sixteen? You can be very proud, only 16 versus thousands in Katrina,” he said.
The death toll in Puerto Rico is widely expected to rise as a result of the dire conditions in which the storm has left the island.