President Trump arrived at the Muniz Air National Guard Base near San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday — marking his first trip to the island since it was devastated by Hurricane Maria last month

By Lindsay Kimble
October 03, 2017 01:36 PM
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President Donald Trump has arrived in Puerto Rico for the first time since Hurricane Maria devastated the island last month, and is already causing controversy.

During a meeting with local and federal leadership on Tuesday, Trump was introducing his Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney when he commented, “I hate to tell you Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack, because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that’s fine. We’ve saved a lot of lives.”

Trump continued, “Every death is horrible, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody’s ever seen anything like this.”

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The president then asked the “death count” in the wake of the hurricane, and was seemingly pleased to hear the natural disaster has claimed only 16 lives “versus in the thousands,” praising the leaders, “you can be proud.”

Twitter swiftly condemned the president for his comments.

Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico on Sept. 20 and left millions without homes and electricity. Experts have estimated that without electricity and supplies, that number could increase to the thousands, according to the Associated Press.

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Trump has received significant backlash for his response to the crisis, which has included criticism of San Juan’s mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, and other Puerto Rico officials.

“They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” the president tweeted from his Bedminster club on Saturday morning. “10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.”

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda later made headlines for tweeting that Trump is going “straight to hell” for his comments.

During the Tuesday meeting, Trump seemingly alluded to his disagreements with Cruz while praising Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello.

“The governor is not even from my party and he was tremendously supportive,” said Trump, adding, “Right from the beginning this governor did not play politics.”