In Puerto Rico, Trump Says Hurricane Maria Isn’t a “Real Catastrophe” Like Katrina

He continued heaping praise on his administration for relief efforts that have drawn criticism.

Trump's Puerto Rico Visit Was All About Him

Trump said he was proud that Puerto Rico's death toll wasn't "a real catastrophe like Katrina."

Posted by Mother Jones Video on Tuesday, October 3, 2017

In his first visit to Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria made landfall nearly two weeks ago, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to heap effusive praise on his administration’s relief efforts, suggesting residents should be “proud” because the current confirmed death toll is far lower than in a “real catastrophe” like Hurricane Katrina.

“Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the 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 has ever seen anything like this,” he said from inside the airport hangar of Muñiz Air National Guard Base.

“And what is your death count as of this moment? Seventeen?” Trump then asked an official. “Sixteen people certified. Sixteen people versus in the thousands.”

The remarks came during an appearance with various administrators from FEMA, the Coast Guard, and the Puerto Rican government. At numerous turns, Trump asked officials to come forward with positive things to say about his administration’s response.

“Jennifer, do you think you could say a little bit?” he said, specifically referring to the favorable aspects.

Trump then quickly followed up by insisting that the exercise had nothing to do with him. “It’s not about me,” he said.

The president has spent the past few days attacking people who have been critical of his administration’s response, claiming that such “political ingrates” and the media were fabricating reports of slow aid. He specifically lashed out at San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, after she made an emotional plea calling on Washington to do more to save lives amid the devastation.

Cruz was present at Trump’s hangar appearance on Tuesday. According to pool reports, she did not comply with Trump’s repeated insistence that the officials in the room applaud his talking points. When she told him, “It’s not about politics,” he turned away from her.

 

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate