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After a week of mostly ignoring Puerto Rico’s crisis from Hurricane Maria, Donald Trump finally turned his attentions to the island, where he said some “big decisions” will have to be made about rebuilding.
It didn’t take long before the president started pointing fingers for the slow and inadequate relief, which has left large portions of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million population without clean water, electricity, medical care, and even food.
In key moments during the week, Trump called San Juan’s mayor “nasty,” launched paper towels into a crowd like they were T-shirts at a football game, and promised to get rid of Puerto Rico’s debts (which he doesn’t have the power to do).
A day of “nasty” tweets Day 254 — September 30
Trump spent his Saturday tweeting about:
- Puerto Rico wanting “everything to be done for them.”
- Democrats supposedly telling San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz that she had to be “nasty” to Trump.
- The mayor’s “poor leadership ability.”
- The recovery efforts in Puerto Rico overshadowing the San Juan mayor’s criticism of Trump.
- The “fantastic” work by first responders and military in Puerto Rico, which was “totally destroyed.”
- Nobody giving him enough credit for his Puerto Rico response.
- CNN and NBC “disparaging our great First Responders as a way to ‘get Trump.’“
After taking a beating, the San Juan mayor slapped back at the president later in the week, calling him “miscommunicator-in-chief.” She also wore a T-shirt with the word “Nasty” on it during an interview.
Trump thinks he did good Day 255 — October 1
Trump also applauded his own handling of the post-hurricane relief effort in Puerto Rico on Twitter, despite the “Fake News or politically motivated ingrates.”
“We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico,” he tweeted.
Flip-flopping on Puerto Rico’s debt Day 257 — October 3
Before Trump even boarded his flight to Puerto Rico, he was making excuses.
“But now the roads are cleared, communication is starting to come back. We need their truck drivers to start driving trucks,” he told reporters. “On a local level, they have to give us more help.”
Trump spent about five hours on the ground.
After joking that Puerto Rico had “thrown the budget a little out of whack” during his visit there, President Trump told Fox News he was going to wipe out the storm-ravaged island’s significant debt. But there’s almost nothing he can do about that as president.
“You know, they owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street, and we’re going to have to wipe that out,” Trump told correspondent Geraldo Rivera. “You can say goodbye to that.”
His comments rocked the market for Puerto Rican government bonds.
Later in the day, Trump reiterated the devastated island has “to give us more help.”
San Juan’s mayor continued to call out Trump, saying the president’s comments lack sensitivity.
Everybody gets paper towels Day 258 — October 4
Less than a day after Trump said he wanted to forgive Puerto Rico’s debt, Sanders corrected him. Trump, in fact, wants to follow the bankruptcy process, she said during a press briefing.
During what Trump later called a “great day in Puerto Rico,” the president was filmed throwing rolls of paper towels into a crowd of people as part of relief efforts. San Juan’s mayor called the sight “terrible and abominable.”