San Juan mayor to meet Trump, says politics not driving criticism

San Juan mayor to meet Trump, says politics not driving criticism
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San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said Tuesday she’ll attend a briefing with President Trump “out of respect for the American people” and insisted that her criticism of the federal government’s hurricane response is “not about politics.”

President Trump has been feuding with Cruz, who has blasted the federal government’s rescue and relief efforts in Puerto Rico, where many on the island are without power and searching for food nearly two weeks after a devastating hurricane.


Trump is en route to Puerto Rico to view the devastation. Cruz has accepted the White House’s invitation to attend a briefing with the president in San Juan.

“I have accepted the invitation on behalf of the people of San Juan and out of respect for the American people represented by the Office of the President of the United States,” Cruz said in a statement.

“I will use this opportunity to reiterate the primary message: this is about saving lives, not about politics; this is also about giving the people of Puerto Rico the respect we deserve; and recognizing the moral imperative of both.”

Many on the left have accused the White House of paying more attention to the hurricanes that ripped through the Gulf region last month than to Hurricane Maria, the Category 4 storm that has turned Puerto Rico into a disaster zone.

Cruz has been at the forefront of the criticism, saying at one point that the government “has been killing us with inefficiency.”

Trump has fired back at her over Twitter, but said Tuesday before boarding a plane for Puerto Rico that Cruz had “come back a long way.”

“I think it’s now acknowledged what a great job we’ve done, and people are looking at that, and in Texas and in Florida, we get an A-plus,” Trump said. “And I’ll tell you what, I think we’ve done just as good in Puerto Rico, and it’s actually a much tougher situation. But now the roads are cleared, communications is starting to come back. We need their truck drivers to start driving trucks."

“Whether it’s [Cruz] or anybody else, they’re all starting to say it,” Trump added. “I appreciate very much the governor [Ricardo A. Rosselló] and his comments. He has said we have done an incredible job, and that’s the truth.”

Still, Trump criticized the local response.

“On a local level, they have to give us more help,” Trump said.

Cruz said Tuesday it was good to have an open line of communication about the difficulties in distributing aid in Puerto Rico but that the conversations "must produce much needed results.”

“This is a humanitarian crisis and it must be treated with a sense of urgency,” she said. “That is the only way to complete the only mission that matters: saving lives. That is what this is all about.”