President Trump on Saturday defended his administration’s hurricane recovery effort in Puerto Rico and questioned the leadership of San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz who is criticizing the president’s effort to get supplies, electricity and other relief to the U.S. island.
But after facing criticism over his attacks of the mayor, Trump tweeted praise for several other officials involved in the recovery, including the governors of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. He also praised Puerto’s Rico’s representative in Congress.
“We must all be united in offering assistance to everyone suffering in Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the wake of this terrible disaster,” the president tweeted.
He called out three government officials for praise.
“The Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, is a great guy and leader who is really working hard,” Trump said. “Thank you Ricky!”
“Just spoke to Governor Kenneth Mapp of the U.S. Virgin Islands who stated that #FEMA and Military are doing a GREAT job! Thank you Governor!” the president said.
He also tweeted: “Congresswoman Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon of Puerto Rico has been wonderful to deal with and a great representative of the people. Thank you!”
Earlier Saturday, the president singled out Cruz for criticism, accusing her of “poor leadership.”
“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,” Trump said in a series of tweets. “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.”
Cruz, in response, said later Saturday morning that she’ll “continue to do whatever I have to do” to get federal hurricane assistance.
“I will continue to do whatever I have to do, say whatever I have to say, compliment the people I need to compliment and call out the people I need to call out,” she told MSNBC. “I am not going to be distracted by small comments, by politics, by petty issues. This is one goal and it’s to save lives.”
Cruz also argued that Lt. General Jeffrey Buchanan, appointed Thursday to lead the administration’s response on the U.S. island, says he will need more troops and equipment.
“So, who am I?” she asked. “I’m just a little mayor from the capital city of San Juan. This is a three star general telling the world right now he does not have the appropriate means and tools to take care of the situation.”
Trump also tweeted Saturday: “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 pledged Friday to spare no effort to help Puerto Ricans recover from Hurricane Maria’s ruinous aftermath even as Cruz accused the administration of “killing us with the inefficiency.”
Cruz said later Friday that she wanted to “make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives,” while the president asserted that U.S. officials and emergency personnel are working all-out against daunting odds, with “incredible” results.