Mnuchin on Trump’s feud with San Juan mayor: She attacked, he attacked back

Mnuchin on Trump’s feud with San Juan mayor: She attacked, he attacked back
© Greg Nash

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOvernight Finance: GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few no votes | Highlights from day two of markup | House votes to overturn joint-employer rule | Senate panel approves North Korean banking sanctions Fitch Ratings: GOP tax plan will hike deficits, be 'revenue negative' Live coverage: Day two of the Ways and Means GOP tax bill markup MORE on Sunday defended President Trump for launching a series of attacks against San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who partially blamed stalled hurricane relief efforts on the federal government's inefficiency.

“When the president gets attacked, he attacks back, and I think the mayor’s comments were unfair given what the federal government has done,” Mnuchin told host Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The president criticized Cruz on Twitter early Saturday, accusing the mayor of exhibiting poor leadership in the midst of the recovery efforts and claiming Puerto Rican leaders want the federal government to do everything for them.

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Cruz responded to the attack later Saturday, saying the hurricane relief efforts are not about politics or "petty comments," but about saving the lives of Puerto Rican residents. 

"I just think [Trump] looking for an excuse for things that are not going well," she added.

Trump's tweets slamming the mayor came one day after Cruz issued an emotional plea for help, saying people are dying on the American territory and partially blaming burdensome bureaucracy for holding such efforts back.

"I will do what I never thought I was going to do. I am begging, begging anyone who can hear us to save us from dying. If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency," Cruz said during a press conference on Friday. 

The administration has come under fire from critics who say it is failing to help the island as a majority of its 3.4 million residents struggle with widespread power outages, collapsed infrastructure and ongoing shortages of water and supplies in Hurricane Maria's wake.

The White House has defended its response to the crisis, while some officials in Puerto Rico say the situation is turning into a humanitarian disaster.

The president is scheduled to travel to Puerto Rico on Tuesday.