San Juan, Puerto Rico Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz told President Donald Trump Tuesday that hurricane relief efforts on the island were “not about politics,” days after Trump sparred with Cruz via Twitter over her criticism of the federal government’s response.
“It’s all about saving lives, it’s not about politics,” said Cruz to Trump as they shook hands following a briefing earlier in the day.
Trump accused Cruz of “poor leadership” and speculated that “Democrats” told her to “be nasty to Trump” in a barrage of tweets over the weekend after the mayor denounced a comment by the acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, who said last week she thought the federal government’s reach in Puerto Rico was “a good news story.”
…Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2017
It was originally unclear if Trump and Cruz would meet, but on Tuesday morning Cruz announced that she had been invited to the briefing and had accepted.
“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 to do both,” said Cruz prior to the meeting in a statement.
Trump touted the response to Hurricane Maria as he attended the briefing on relief efforts, noting that the territory’s officials “can be proud” of the relatively low death toll on the island compared to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Noting that “every death is a horror,” Trump called Katrina “a real catastrophe” given its “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died,” before asking a Puerto Rican official for their “death count.”
“Sixteen people certified,” continued…