In the wake of the hurricanes, Puerto Rico, which is a United States territory, was severely damaged. Millions of people are without power. Food and water are in short supply. And the people of the island need help from the United States government. Because President Trump is trying to work with them, he set aside time on Tuesday to talk to Puerto Rican leaders to figure out the proper response to Hurricane Maria. The hurricane has killed at least 16 people and left the country ravaged by the high winds and severe floods. But during the meeting with Trump, some Puerto Rican leaders weren’t very friendly with the president. With the cameras rolling, we heard what some of them uttered under their breath in a backhanded statement.
It took Trump a while, but he finally met with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who has been very critical of Trump’s response to the hurricane. And because Trump knew that she might try to take advantage of their brief meeting, he made sure that cameras were rolling to record her every word.
During their encounter, Trump and Cruz shook hands. And in that moment, you heard President Trump saying, ‘How are you?’
Then in response the mayor tells Trump, ‘This is not about politics?’
Because Trump was not interested in discussing ‘politics’ with the mayor of San Juan, he ignored her and then directed his attention to the rest of the dignitaries in the room. And the exchange, which was very awkward, was caught on camera and uploaded online – see the video below.
During the meeting with the Puerto Rican officials, Trump asked them to repeat some of the nice things they had said about him and the country.
“It’s not about me, it’s about these incredible people,” the president said. “I’ve never seen people working so hard in my life.”
González-Colón, a Republican, responded with the following. “All the questions and requests that the governor did, the president and his Cabinet accomplished it and sent more people,” she said. “Thank you, Mr. President, for all you’ve been doing for the island.”
Trump said, “Well, I want to thank you because you were really generous. And I saw those comments, and everybody saw those comments, and we really appreciate it.”
After the meeting, Cruz made her criticisms public. When she got onto her soap box on CNN, she called Trump the “miscommunicator in chief.”
She then added, “I think his staff understands now, and they have all the data they need. But I would hope that the president of the United States stops spouting out comments that really hurt the people of Puerto Rico. Rather than commander in chief, he sort of becomes miscommunicator in chief.”
In an interview with Fox News, Trump said that Puerto Rico’s debt is going to be erased.
“They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street, and we’re going to have to wipe that out,” the president said. “You’re going to say goodbye to that. I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs but whoever it is you can wave goodbye to that.”