President Trump is lashing out at the mayor of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, after she blamed the Trump administration for not doing enough to help the hurricane-hit island and slammed the top official at the Homeland Security Department for saying that the relief effort makes "a really good news story."
"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," Trump tweeted Saturday morning about Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz.
He went on to pin blame on Cruz and "others" on the U.S. territory for failing to get Puerto Rican workers to contribute to what Trump said should be a "community effort."
"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," he tweeted. "They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job."
The president complimented the military and first responders "despite no electric, roads, phones etc.," saying that they "have done an amazing job" in helping with the relief efforts despite Puerto Rico being "totally destroyed."
He also condemned "fake news" CNN and NBC for "going out of their way to disparage our great First Responders as a way to 'get Trump.'"
Fake News CNN and NBC are going out of their way to disparage our great First Responders as a way to "get Trump." Not fair to FR or effort!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2017
Officials are still struggling with provided food, water and other relief to people on the island after it was decimated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria; the later made a direct landfall as a Category 4 storm on Sept. 20. Parts of Puerto Rico may not see power returned for six months. At least 16 people have died in connection to Maria and that number is expected to rise.
The Trump administration has been criticized for its slow reaction to the storm, and Trump miffed some when he said that relief efforts could be slow because Puerto Rico is "an island, surrounded by water — big water, ocean water." However, Trump insists that local officials are heaping praise on his administrations efforts.
Controversy began when acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, speaking to reporters outside the White House on Thursday, described the relief efforts on the island is "a really good news story."
Cruz then shot back at Duke on Friday. "Dammit, this is not a good news story," Cruz said. "This is a 'people are dying' story. This is a life or death story."
San Juan mayor: "We are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency, and the bureaucracy. We will make it with or without you." pic.twitter.com/NRi5Vp3L5H— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 29, 2017
She upped the ante later the next day saying that the situation was so dire on the island that the situation could be "close to a genocide."
"I am asking members of the press to send a mayday call. We are dying here," Cruz said at a press conference Friday afternoon. "And if we don't get the food and water into people's hands, we are going to see something close to a genocide."
After Trump's flurry of tweets Saturday morning, Cruz sent out one of her own with pictures of herself leading rescue and recovery efforts. "The goal is one: saving lives. This is the time to show our "true colors". We cannot be distracted by anything else," she said.
Democratic lawmakers too are putting pressure on Trump over his handling of the situation in the Caribbean.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said she was "outraged" at the federal government for not doing more to help people in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She, along with several other Democratic lawmakers, submitted a letter to Trump on Friday requesting he utilize all authorities granted to him under the Defense Production Act, which allows the president to prioritize materials and services to promote emergency repairs, supply lines, and restoration of vital utilities and facilities destroyed or damaged by a natural disaster.
The governor of Puerto Rico has been more receptive to Trump's efforts, saying that the administration has been responsive to his requests for help.
"I have to say that the administration has responded to our petitions. FEMA, Brock Long, has been on the phone virtually all the time with me, checking out how things are going," Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Friday.
"The different components of the national guard, military, FEMA and our government are working together on the priorities," he said.
On Thursday Trump waived the Jones Act, which forbids foreign-flagged ships from doing commerce between U.S. ports, to help with the island's recovery, after initially saying he might not because of U.S. shipping industry interests.
Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, who has taken over coordinating those operations as more military cargo flights arrived on the island, said Friday that the Pentagon has 10,000 people helping with the hurricane response effort. But, the three-star general told CNN's "New Day" that "it's not enough, and we're bringing more in."
Trump's schedule Saturday says he will conduct a number of calls about the situation in Puerto Rico, including with Rosello and Long, from his golf club in New Jersey.
Trump will then visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday and is also expected to make a stop in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which was also hit by the hurricanes, at some point too.
"I will be going to Puerto Rico on Tuesday with Melania. Will hopefully be able to stop at the U.S. Virgin Islands (people working hard)," Trump tweeted Saturday.