The president wrote on Twitter he was "the best thing that's ever happened to Puerto Rico" after slamming the territory as "one of the most corrupt places on earth"
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stepped in for some course correction after President Donald Trump appeared to offer a bit of revisionist history regarding his response to the hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico in 2017.
As the area braces for Hurricane Dorian, Trump lashed out against the territory on Twitter, slamming it as “one of the most corrupt places on earth” and praising himself as being “the best thing” to ever happen to the island.
“Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth. Their political system is broken and their politicians are either Incompetent or Corrupt. Congress approved Billions of Dollars last time, more than anyplace else has ever gotten, and it is sent to Crooked Pols. No good!” he wrote. “And by the way, I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to Puerto Rico!”
However, Trump was likely not taking into account his widely-criticized response to Hurricane Maria, the Category 5 storm that killed thousands of people on the island and caused an estimated $90 billion in damage in September 2017.
Ocasio-Cortez, a freshman Democratic congresswoman from New York, wasted no time in pointing out that detail to Trump to put his claims in check.
“3,000 Americans died on your watch,” the politician, 29, wrote on Twitter. “You’re not the best thing to happen to anybody but yourself. And even that’s questionable.”
Trump, 73, was criticized in the storm’s aftermath and accused of failing to meet the territory’s needs, as U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico went without power for months and barely had drinking water for weeks, according to The Atlantic. The Senate reached a two-year budget deal that would give Puerto Rico almost $16 billion in aid, but it was far short of the $94.4 billion officials said they needed to rebuild the island and prevent future devastation, the New York Times reported.
The president visited the island shortly after Maria hit, and met with survivors in a church, where he tossed rolls of paper towels into the crowd.
“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack, because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico,” he said at a press conference during his visit. “And that’s fine. We’ve saved a lot of lives.”
Trump later drew criticism in September 2018 for falsely claiming that the number of victims from the hurricane was largely inflated, despite the fact that 2,975 was accepted as the official death toll by the Puerto Rican government.
“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico,” he said, without basis. “When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000.”
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He later blamed the Democrats in a follow-up tweet, claiming they’d puffed up the numbers “in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico.”
His comments were rebuked by Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello in a Facebook Live video. “The victims of Puerto Rico and the people of Puerto Rico in general do not deserve to be questioned about their pain,” he said.