White House

Trump slams Puerto Rican officials, calls Nadler a hypocrite

Rep. Beyer alleges that Trump is ‘lying’ about how much aid has gone to island

Hurricane survivors receive food and water being given out by volunteers and municipal police as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017 in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump continued his attacks Tuesday morning on Puerto Rican leaders over hurricane aid and blasted a top House Democrat over what he described as hypocrisy over special Justice Department investigations.

Trump fired off a number of tweets Monday night blasting Senate Democrats for shooting down a disaster relief bill over their concerns it provided too little for the hurricane-torn U.S. commonwealth. In one of those evening tweets, the president made the claim — yet another without support — that Puerto Rico was set before that measure was even crafted “to receive more hurricane relief funding than any ‘place’ in history.”

He was back at it Tuesday morning, but set his sights mostly on Puerto Rican officials, with whom he has feuded since early in his term after two massive storms ravaged the island.

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Trump wrote that the commonwealth was slated to get $91 billion from Washington and he repeated his unsupported claim. He alleged that “all their local politicians do is complain & ask for more money,” described those officials as “grossly incompetent” and spending U.S. funds “foolishly or corruptly” as the “only take from USA....”

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Without explaining his contention, he wrote in a second tweet that the “best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico is President Donald J. Trump.”

Puerto Rican officials and most congressional Democrats, however, strongly disagree.

Rep. Don Beyer, D-Virginia, fired back with his own tweet charging the president with “lying about Puerto Rico, which hasn’t gotten anywhere near $91 billion.”

Beyer said Trump “cruelly ignored and even held back disaster assistance to Americans in Puerto Rico as thousands died,” adding: “Now he admits he ignored Americans’ suffering because of his own ego. Just monstrous.”

Trump is particularly upset with Senate Democrats because the disaster-relief bill that hit a speed bump in the chamber included funds for flood-soaked Midwest states that included thousands of farmers, many of whom voted for him in 2016.

In another example of how Trump often gets accused of playing into the country’s centuries-old racial tensions, he said Washington “Cannot continue to hurt our Farmers and States with these massive payments, and so little appreciation!” He was referring to sending funds to Puerto Rico, where most residents are of Hispanic descent, at the expense of Midwest states, where most residents are white.

Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Virginia, chairman of the House Oversight Committee’s subcommittee on government operations, told The Daily Beast he has yet to obtain administration documents spelling out its response to the hurricanes in Puerto Rico. He said the full panel should be ready to subpoena those documents if the White House won’t turn them over.

“This is not an academic exercise,” Connolly told the website. “People lost their lives.”

His tweets drew charges from some political commentators of racism.

As usual, the president began his day watching cable news programs.

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He tagged his favorite morning show, the pro-Trump “Fox & Friends” program, in a tweet that was critical of House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, who is moving ahead with his investigation of many things Trump-related.

Nadler is doing so despite Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller’s finding that Trump’s campaign didn’t collude with Russia in the 2016 presidential election and Attorney General William P. Barr stating he concluded from Mueller’s work that the president did not obstruct justice even though the special counsel saw some evidence of obstruction. And it clearly irks the president.

Trump, apparently passing along information from the conservative network’s morning show without confirming it, said Nadler opposed the release of then-Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s report on his investigation of President Bill Clinton.

“No information whatsoever would or could be legally released,” he said of Nadler’s position when it was a member of his party being probed. “But with the NO COLLUSION Mueller Report, which the Dems hate, he wants it all. NOTHING WILL EVER SATISFY THEM! @foxandfriends”

Asked if the congressman wished to respond to Trump’s allegations, a Nadler spokesman replied: “No.”

Griffin Connolly contributed to this report.

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