White House: San Juan mayor might be "too busy doing TV"

Trump is expected to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday, but it's unclear if he will meet with the mayor he attacked

Published September 30, 2017 3:56PM (EDT)

The aftermath of Hurricane Maria, San Juan, Puerto Rico, September 20, 2017. (Getty/Hector Retamal)
The aftermath of Hurricane Maria, San Juan, Puerto Rico, September 20, 2017. (Getty/Hector Retamal)

Following President Donald Trump's latest Twitter attack, this time on San Juan mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz, the White House suggested she may be doing too many television appearances to be part of the aid assistance efforts at the Federal Emergency Management Agency command center.

The president is scheduled to make a visit to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, and when asked if he would meet with Cruz after his derogatory and baseless claims, a White House official said, "not sure," according to ABC News.

The official added the Cruz "has been invited to FEMA command center several times to see operations and be part of efforts but so far has refused to come, maybe too busy doing TV?"

The comments are ironic considering how infatuated Trump is regarding television ratings, appearances and the type of coverage he receives. Cruz has also been seen personally assisting those in need.


In recent days Cruz has made powerful appearances in the media, not for personal gains, but rather as a cry for help as well as to criticize a slow federal response.

Hurricane Maria made landfall on Wednesday Sept. 20 and has left virtually the entire island without power, and nearly half the population without potable drinking water.

The day after the hurricane hit Trump "called local officials on the island, issued an emergency declaration and pledged that all federal resources would be directed to help," according to the Washington Post.

He also departed for his golf course the same day, leaving briefly on Friday to attend his rally in Alabama. But Trump nor any of his senior officials made a public statement about the devastation that Puerto Rico had become faced with. He held a meeting on Friday with some Cabinet members, however the purpose for that meeting was to discuss his new travel ban, and did not cover the hurricane, the Post reported.

There was also a brief conversation between Trump and Homeland Security secretary Elaine Duke, responsible for watching over disaster responses, but they didn't speak again until Tuesday, the Post reported.

Trump spent the majority of last weekend igniting a culture war over the national anthem and football players who have protested it, as well as issued further threats to North Korea.

"I don’t think that anybody realized how bad this was going to be," a person familiar with discussions between Washington and Puerto Rico personnel told the Post. "Quite frankly, the level of communications and collaboration that I’ve seen with Irma and now Maria between the administration, local government and our office has been unprecedented."

The source added, "whether that’s been translated into effectiveness on the ground, that’s up for interpretation."

The Post elaborated:

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. [...] 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.

But the president has continued to insist, even after his attacks on Cruz that his administration's response has been more than adequate. "Despite the Fake News Media in conjunction with the Dems, an amazing job is being done in Puerto Rico. Great people!" Trump tweeted Saturday afternoon.  

A little more than an hour later, he praised Puerto Rico's governor. "The Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, is a great guy and leader who is really working hard. Thank you Ricky!" he wrote.

It's likely that the president praised Rossello because the governor complimented the Trump administration's response effort — which Trump tweeted about — however he had also said that much more help was needed.


By Charlie May

MORE FROM Charlie May

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Disaster Relief Fema Hurricane Maria President Donald Trump Puerto Rico White House