Trump faces backlash over tweets slamming San Juan mayor, Puerto Ricans
Social media users reacted fiercely to President Donald Trump’s Saturday morning tweets attacking the mayor of San Juan and the residents of Puerto Rico, whom he accused of not doing enough to help with the recovery after Hurricane Maria.
After Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz criticized an administration official for describing the federal response as a “good news story” and begged for additional help from the government, Trump lashed out on Twitter.
“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,” he wrote.
Trump claimed Cruz and others in Puerto Rico are “not able to get their workers to help” and “want everything to be done for them.” He then went on to praise the federal workers on the ground.
In later tweets, Trump accused the “Fake News” of disparaging first responders. It was unclear what he was referring to.
“The Fake News Networks are working overtime in Puerto Rico doing their best to take the spirit away from our soldiers and first R's. Shame!” he wrote.
The President then tweeted ".....#FakeNews critics are working overtime, but we're getting great marks from the people that truly matter! #PRStrong"
CNN host Bill Weir, who has been reporting from Puerto Rico since the storm, called Trump’s attack “absurd.”
“Every FEMA person I met thanked us for highlighting the enormity of the disaster and trying to get them more resources,” he tweeted.
Saturday afternoon the President unleashed another flurry of tweets recounting positive interactions he has had with Puerto Rico lawmakers.
Cruz responded to Trump’s claims of her “poor leadership” by posting photos of herself wading through floods to help San Juan citizens. In an appearance on MSNBC, she attempted to shift attention to the island’s need for aid.
Cruz also pointed to comments by the military official heading up the federal response, who said he needed more troops and more resources.
Trump’s tweets monopolized attention on Twitter and on cable news early Saturday.
“You're going straight to hell,” tweeted Lin-Manuel Miranda, summarizing the feelings of many of the president’s critics.
Many interpreted his suggestion that Puerto Ricans "want everything done for them" as an attempt to depict the islanders as lazy.
Others focused on the contrast of Trump tweeting from his private golf club in New Jersey while Cruz and her citizens are trying to survive in dire conditions.
Some also noted that Trump did not lash out at officials in Texas who similarly begged for more federal assistance after they were hit by Hurricane Harvey last month.
White House officials did come to Trump’s defense, echoing his attempt to portray his critics as disrespecting first responders.
“US military & first responders saving many lives in PR, but like so many of their acts of heroism, is often a story that doesn’t get told,” tweeted Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
She quoted Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello, who said Saturday that the administration has answered all of his requests “in an expedited manner,” but he also said the island needs much more help to get out of this emergency.
Rossello resisted commenting directly on Trump’s tweets at a news conference on Saturday morning.
"I don't feel that message was sent in general," he said. "I am committed to collaborating with everybody. This is a point where we can't look at small differences. We can't establish differences based on politics."
On Saturday afternoon Trump tweeted about the Rosello calling him a "great guy."
Sanders also disputed a story published by The Washington Post Saturday that suggested the president spending the weekend at his golf course, during which most of his public comments focused on NFL players and the national anthem, hindered the federal response.
“@POTUS gave military & first responders 100% support & has been updated daily on efforts by Gen Kelly and @fema,” she wrote.
White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino dismissed Cruz as a “@realDonaldTrump hater” on Twitter, citing a tweet she once posted about favoring Hillary Clinton over Trump.
An unnamed White House official also commented to ABC News reporter Katherine Faulders that Cruz may be “too busy doing tv” to visit the FEMA command center and see the operation firsthand.
Trump said he will be visiting Puerto Rico with First Lady Melania Trump on Tuesday, and he also hopes to stop in the U.S. Virgin Islands where there are "people working hard."