California GOP lawmaker: Trump FEMA tweet 'out of left field' and unhelpful

A Republican congressman who represents the town of Paradise destroyed by a wildfire in the fall said President TrumpDonald John TrumpDACA recipient claims Trump is holding ‘immigrant youth hostage’ amid quest for wall Lady Gaga blasts Pence as ‘worst representation of what it means to be Christian’ We have a long history of disrespecting Native Americans and denying their humanity MORE's tweet Wednesday threatening to withhold Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) money from California wildfire victims “came out of left field” and “didn’t really help,”

Rep. Doug LaMalfaDouglas (Doug) LaMalfaOvernight Energy: Trump threatens to stop FEMA funding for California fire relief | Wheeler officially nominated to be EPA head | Wildlife refuges to get staff during shutdown California GOP lawmaker: Trump FEMA tweet 'out of left field' and unhelpful House GOP and Puerto Rico governor agree on statehood vote MORE (R-Calif.), a Trump ally from far northern California, said the president should not “conflate” FEMA and land management issues as he did in his tweet. The congressman said he agrees with Trump that California state officials are poorly managing forests, but LaMalfa said FEMA and the wildfire victims should not be the president’s focus.

Trump’s tweet “is going to get a lot of people upset and concerned,” LaMalfa said.

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“That tweet came out of left field. It didn’t really help in that situation,” he told reporters just off the House floor. “So now we’re working to make sure our constituents know — and I will be remind them — that he made the promise [to them] when he came to visit Paradise, which is greatly appreciated, and that FEMA has been great so far in helping.”

Trump toured the area hit by the Camp Fire in Paradise with LaMalfa, then-Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and Brown’s successor, Democrat Gavin Newsom, in November. At least 85 people died in the blaze, making it the deadliest wildfire in U.S. history.

During the visit, Trump vowed to help Paradise residents rebuild their devastated community. But on Wednesday morning, Trump took to Twitter and threatened to halt FEMA funding unless officials there did proper forest management, including cutting back trees and removing brush.

“Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen,” Trump tweeted. “Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!”

LaMalfa, a rice farmer who serves on the Natural Resources Committee, said his immediate reaction when he saw the tweet was: “Oh boy, here we go.”

Trump “is conflating the land management battles we’ve been having with the FEMA and fire victims — that shouldn’t be conflated together,” LaMalfa said. “I share the same frustration with the land management … but don’t make it about FEMA and the fire victims.

“If you want to cut off money, cut off money for stupid things like high speed rail or other things,” he said.