Trump attacks Puerto Rican mayor for ‘nasty’ comments amid island’s crisis

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President Trump on Friday. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

President Trump lashed out on Twitter at San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz on Saturday morning over what he implied was insufficient gratitude for federal help in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

“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,” the commander in chief wrote. “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.”

It’s not clear what, exactly, caused Trump to lash out against Cruz, who has issued increasingly desperate pleas for help as her island of 3.4 million people struggles to obtain clean water, fuel, electricity and other basic supplies.

Cruz has criticized the federal relief effort generally. “We are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency,” Cruz said at a Friday news conference. “I am begging, begging anyone that can hear us, to save us from dying.”

Trump has repeatedly touted the response effort, suggesting that Puerto Rico’s poor infrastructure and “massive debt” is to blame for the U.S. territory’s ongoing crisis. The president also frequently points out that Puerto Rico is an island, which complicates recovery efforts. “This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water,” he said Friday.

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A man stands inside a destroyed supermarket by Hurricane Maria in Salinas, Puerto Rico, on Friday. (Photo: Alvin Baez/Reuters)

Administration officials have followed Trump’s push for optimistic messaging. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke claimed that the recovery was a “good news story.”

Cruz fired back during a CNN interview Friday morning.

“Well, maybe from where she’s standing it’s a good-news story,” said the mayor, who has been pleading for help since Maria hit Puerto Rico more than a week ago. “When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a good-news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good-news story. When you have to pull people down from their buildings — I’m sorry, but that really upsets and frustrates me.”

She continued: “Dammit, this is not a good-news story, this is a people-are-dying story.”

Trump, set to visit Puerto Rico next Tuesday, also used his Saturday-morning Twitter microphone to attack the media’s coverage of the response efforts. See his full social-media barrage below:

After Trump’s attack, Cruz tweeted that local life-saving efforts should not face distractions.

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