Trump to visit East Palestine in wake of train derailment
Former President Trump plans to visit the town of East Palestine, Ohio, where a train derailment led to the release of toxic chemicals, next week.
Trump posted on Truth Social in response to a report that he was planning to make the trip that the residents of East Palestine are “Great people who need help, NOW!” He later posted that he will visit on Wednesday.
The 2024 presidential candidate’s son, Donald Trump Jr., posted on Twitter that his father will visit the town.
“If our ‘leaders’ are too afraid to actually lead real leaders will step up and fill the void,” Trump Jr. said.
Fox News first reported Trump’s plans.
The Biden administration has received some criticism from detractors who say the federal government took too long to respond to the crisis and send top officials to the site.
The Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are sending toxicologists to East Palestine on Saturday to conduct testing after residents said they are still smelling noxious fumes from the chemicals and some are feeling ill.
State officials have said testing has shown that the air and water in the town are safe, but some residents and experts have cast doubt on that assessment.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in particular has received harsh criticism from both sides of the political aisle over the situation.
A progressive group demanded that Buttigieg restore railway safety regulations from the Obama administration that Trump revoked that they say would help avoid “disasters” like these in the future. They noted that Buttigieg tweeted about the situation on Monday, which was 10 days after the derailment occurred, but said holding the train company accountable “by Tweet only will not do.”
A spokesperson for the Transportation Department told ABC News that staff were on the site of the crash within hours to help with the investigation.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called on Buttigieg to resign, saying that the secretary “refused to acknowledge” the disaster until he needed to, which Rubio said is part of a “two-year pattern.”
Controversy also emerged over whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would provide assistance to the area.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said FEMA initially told him that the region was not eligible to receive aid because the agency usually responds to natural disasters like hurricanes that cause widespread property damage. But DeWine said on Friday that FEMA reversed itself and plans to send assistance.
Trump later posted on Truth Social that Biden and FEMA originally did not plan to send federal aid to help East Palestine but announced they would send a team to help once he said he was planning to visit.
“Hopefully he will also be there,” Trump said, referring to Biden. “This is good news because we got them to ‘move.’ The people of East Palestine need help. I’ll see you on Wednesday!”
East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway said in an interview with Fox News that he has not felt that the federal government is showing the proper urgency over the situation.
— Updated at 10:54 a.m.
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