President Trump lashed out at Puerto Rico and its politicians on Wednesday, calling the U.S. territory “one of the most corrupt places on earth” as it braced for the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian with near-hurricane force.
Earlier Wednesday morning, Trump continued a feud with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto, deriding the leader of the island’s largest city as “incompetent” in a morning tweet.
“We are tracking closely tropical storm Dorian as it heads, as usual, to Puerto Rico,” Trump wrote. “FEMA and all others are ready, and will do a great job. When they do, let them know it, and give them a big Thank You — Not like last time. That includes from the incompetent Mayor of San Juan!”
Wednesday was the second day in a row Trump had complained about the frequency with which storms have hit the U.S. territory of 3.2 million people, which is again under a hurricane watch.
On Tuesday, Trump took to Twitter to complain about “yet another big storm” heading toward Puerto Rico — writing “Will it ever end?” — and lamented how much aid Congress had previously allocated for recovery efforts there, using an inflated figure.
As he has in the past, Trump falsely said that Congress had allocated $92 billion for recovery in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
As of June 30, Congress had allocated $42.7 billion, with less than $14 billion reaching the island. The larger figure cited by Trump is an estimate of potential storm-related liabilities over the next 20 years.
Tuesday’s tweets drew a rebuke from Cruz.
“We are not going to be concerned by, frankly, his behavior, his lack of understanding, and it is ludicrous,” she said during a CNN interview on Tuesday night. “So get out of the way, President Trump, and let people who can do the job get the job done.”
Cruz received national attention in 2017 when she criticized Washington’s response to Maria, pleading on television for help to “save us from dying.”
That drew the ire of Trump, who took repeated aim at Cruz on Twitter, accusing her of “such poor leadership ability” and contending that Democrats at urged her to be “nasty” to him.
The sparring has continued since.
Late Tuesday, Trump formally declared that an emergency exists in Puerto Rico, activating the federal government response to supplement local storm preparation and recovery efforts.
Last month, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced his resignation following intense pressure from inside and outside his government. A series of leaked chat messages that denigrated his opponents and Maria victims had triggered outrage from frustrated citizens who had taken to the streets for 13 consecutive days of protests.
Arelis R. Hernández contributed to this report.