President Trump sparked fresh controversy over his administration’s response to the devastation in Puerto Rico caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria after he tweeted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the military cannot stay in Puerto Rico “forever.”
Just hours after Trump’s tweets, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told reporters that the government will continue with recovery efforts “until the job is done.”
“We stand with those American citizens in Puerto Rico until the job is done,” Kelly said at the White House briefing.
“There will be a period in which we hope, sooner rather than later, to which the U.S. military and FEMA generally speaking can withdraw because then the government and the people of Puerto Rico are recovering sufficiently and starting the process of rebuilding,” Kelly added.
“I just got off of the phone with the governor of Puerto Rico. A great relationship. The president deals with him periodically. We saw him when we were down there last week.”
Kelly described Trump’s tweets as “exactly accurate,” because the military and FEMA will not be in Puerto Rico indefinitely.
Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital city, San Juan, responded to the president’s tweets, calling him a “Hater in Chief.”
President Trump has been accused of not dedicating the same amount of resources and attention to the Puerto Rico recovery effort as he has to the recovery efforts underway in Texas and Florida.