Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, said she was invited to participate in a White House conference call Monday to discuss the federal response to Hurricane Maria, but her line was muted and she was unable to contribute to the discussion.
"I was invited to participate in a conference via a text," Cruz told the Independent. "I did. When I went into the call it said you are allowed in a listening capacity only … so I listened."
The call, which occurred Monday, was led by Tom Bossert, President Trump's homeland security adviser, and focused on how the federal government can improve its response to Hurricane Maria.
The San Juan mayor has gone head-to-head with Trump over the government's response to Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico and left the entire island without power.
More than half of Puerto Rico's residents don't have access to drinking water, and food and fuel have been scarce.
Appearing on television to discuss the government's disaster response, Cruz lamented the slow speed with which the Trump administration deployed aid to Puerto Rico, and criticized acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke for claiming the federal response is a "good news story."
Cruz's comments led to a stinging rebuke from Trump, who took to Twitter on Saturday to accuse Cruz of displaying "poor leadership." The president also denounced "politically motivated ingrates" criticizing the government's response in Puerto Rico, and praised the government's relief efforts despite.
But the San Juan mayor suggested Trump attacked her on Twitter just to "spite" her.
"This is not a ‘let me see how I can dress [it] up to exaggerate' thing and it pains me that some people can't see it," she told the Independent. "And it pains me that some people refuse to provide whatever they can provide. Just to spite us."
Trump and first lady Melania Trump left Washington, D.C., on Tuesday morning for San Juan, where they will receive a briefing on relief efforts and meet with those impacted by the storm.
When asked Monday about the president's comments about Cruz, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the Trump administration was focused on bringing the mayor "into the coordination efforts."
"This administration, as well as other members on the ground have reached out to her," Sanders said during the White House press briefing. "We hope that she will join with us in those efforts and be a part of things. She's been invited to participate in the events tomorrow, as well, and we hope that those conversations will happen and we can all work together to move forward."
But Cruz told the Independent she hasn't received any information about Trump's plans once he arrives in the capital city, and is unsure of whether she'll meet with the president.
"I read in a tweet that someone said I got an invitation to see him," she said. "I haven't."
Cruz, though, said she wouldn't be upset if she didn't meet with the president.
"I have mouths to feed and frankly, sir, you can insult me all you want. I can take it. But when you call my people ingrates — it's more than an utter insult, it is a sublime acknowledgment that you don't know our hearts," she said. "I respect the office of the presidency of the United States, but I expect whoever holds it to respect the people I represent. … Talking about ingrates, to me that is an insult, it is indignity and perhaps I will accomplish more out on the streets saving lives."