In a series of tweets spanning the late night hours of Monday and into Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump ripped the government of Puerto Rico, calling the island’s leaders “grossly incompetent” and accusing them of corruption that has diverted hurricane recovery funds from the people who need it. According to a report in Politico, the president was “pushing an inaccurate figure” attached to the cost of the recovery effort, funds that were aimed at providing Puerto Ricans aid in the wake of a pair of hurricanes that devastated the island in 2017, leaving thousands without power and water for weeks and months afterward.
“Puerto Rico got 91 Billion Dollars for the hurricane, more money than has ever been gotten for a hurricane before,” Trump tweeted.
The Washington Post calls that claim inaccurate. Their report says that the figure cited by the president is likely the conflation of the actual appropriated amount for relief, around $41 billion, and the estimated costs to help the island fully recover over the next 20 years, $50 billion.
Trump also wrote that the island’s politicians are “grossly incompetent, spend the money foolishly or corruptly, & only take from USA.”
Trending on Twitter Tuesday morning were a number of threads pointing out that Puerto Ricans are in fact citizens of the United States.
Beyond that, the president’s negative tweets about Puerto Rico in the context of disaster relief funds have re-opened recent wounds over claims that under Trump’s leadership, the federal response to disasters in red states like Texas and Florida has been far superior and rapid compared to those offered to Puerto Rico. Those claims were exacerbated by a plan that was reported in January in Politico under which the Army Corps of Engineers was going to divert relief funds earmarked for Puerto Rico to go toward construction on a wall at the U.S. border with Mexico.
Trump also reportedly has asked aides to find a way to cut off funding for the island’s disaster relief projects altogether, according to a report in The Hill.
The latest dust-up over Puerto Rico comes in the wake of a stalled Senate bill on disaster relief funding for the island, in which Republicans offered $600 million. Democrats and the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Roselló, said that wasn’t nearly enough. Trump also revisited his squabbles with the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulín Cruz, calling her “crazed and incompetent” following the Senate’s failure to move the bill on Monday.
Despite all that, Trump went on to tweet that “the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico is President Donald J. Trump,” and bemoaned how little thanks he is getting for his leadership there.
“So many wonderful people, but with such bad Island leadership and with so much money wasted,” he added. “Cannot continue to hurt our Farmers and States with these massive payments, and so little appreciation!”