President Trump on Tuesday noted the enormous cost associated with the hurricane relief and rescue mission in Puerto Rico, saying at a meeting with officials in San Juan on Tuesday that the efforts had “thrown our budget a little out of whack.”
The president appeared in good spirits as he went around the room praising officials in his administration and local leaders in Puerto Rico. When he arrived at Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Trump said in a jocular way that, “Mick is in charge of a thing called the budget.”
“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you've thrown our budget a little out of whack because we spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that's fine,” Trump said. “We saved a lot of lives.”
Trump singled out the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, for praising his administration’s response and allowed Puerto Rico’s Republican resident commissioner, Jenniffer González-Colón, to speak.
But he did not mention San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who was also in the room. Cruz has been critical of the government’s relief efforts and Trump has feuded with her over Twitter.
Later during the meeting, Trump compared the death counts between Hurricane Katrina, which killed hundreds in New Orleans, and Hurricane Maria, which has provoked a humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico.
“If you looked — every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overbearing, nobody has seen anything like this,” Trump said.
“What is your death count as of this morning, 17?" he said.
“Sixteen people certified," Rosselló responded.
“Sixteen people certified versus in the thousands,” Trump said. “You can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people. You can be very proud.”