WASHINGTON (CN) – Puerto Rico’s struggle to recover from the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Maria was lambasted by President Donald Trump in a series of tweets Thursday morning, the president blaming local officials for the island’s ongoing hardships and warning that federal responders will not remain “in P.R. forever.”
San Juan, Puerto Rico Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, a frequent target of the president’s barbs since the hurricane, fired back, tweeting, “It is not that you do not get it; you are incapable of fulfilling the moral imperative to help the people of PR.
“Shame on you!” Cruz said.
“[Y]our comments about Puerto Rico are unbecoming of a Commander in Chief they seem more to come from a ‘Hater in Chief,'” she continued.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello also responded to Trump on Twitter on Thursday to saying that the U.S. territory’s residents are only asking for the same assistance that other Americans would receive.
“The U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico are requesting the support that any of our fellow citizens would receive across our Nation,” Rossello wrote.
Trump angered the official by tweeting that Puerto Rico’s infrastructure and electrical grid “was a disaster before hurricanes,” quoting Sinclair Broadcasting pundit Sharyl Attkisson and warning that a “financial crisis looms largely of their own making.”
“‘Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making,’ says Sharyl Attkisson,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning across three tweets. “A total lack of accountability say [sic] the governor. Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes. Congress to decide how much to spend. We cannot keep FEMA, the military & the first responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!”
Puerto Rico is still recovering after Hurricane Maria devastated the island last month. Just 17 percent of the island has power, while 64 percent of citizens have drinking water, according to the Puerto Rican government.
There are more than 19,000 federal employees on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including 1,400 from FEMA, according to FEMA.
Trump has engaged in multiple spats with Puerto Rican politicians in the wake of the storm, criticizing San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz for “poor leadership” late last month after she contradicted the Trump administration’s claim that the federal response to Puerto Rico was going smoothly.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., hit back at Trump on Thursday for suggesting that federal emergency responders might have to pull off of the island, telling the president in his own set of tweets that the job on the island is “not even close to done.”
“There is still devastation, Americans are still dying,” Schumer tweeted from his official account. “FEMA needs to stay until the job is done.”
Schumer also asked Trump why he treats “Puerto Ricans differently than other Americans when it comes to natural disasters.” Though Puerto Rico does not have a voting member in Washington or carry electoral college votes, its roughly 3.4 million residents are U.S. citizens.