Trump’s posture towards Puerto Rico takes a more callous turn

 msnbc.com  10/12/2017 12:40:58 PM   Steve Benen

Over the last year, Donald Trump’s willingness to publicly contradict Mike Pence has led to some cringe-worthy moments, but developments over the last 24 hours offer an especially awkward example.

The vice president spoke at a National Hispanic Heritage Month reception yesterday, and offered strong assurances to the people of Puerto Rico: “We’re with you; we stand with you; and we will be with you every single day until Puerto Rico is restored bigger and better than ever before.”

In a trio of tweets this morning, Pence’s boss said pretty much the opposite.

“ ‘Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.’ says Sharyl Attkisson. A total lack of accountability say 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!”

Let’s note for context that as of yesterday, more than 80% of Puerto Rico is still without power, three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit. What’s more, roughly a third of the island’s American residents do not yet have access to clean water.

It’s against this backdrop that the president thought it’d be a good idea to blame Puerto Ricans and starting laying the groundwork for a weaker response to the island’s disaster.

“We will be with you every single day,” at least until Donald Trump feels like he’s seen enough.

All of this, of course, only adds insult to injury – in a rather literal sense. In the immediate aftermath of the deadly storm, the president focused his attention on money the island owes to Wall Street. In the days that followed, Trump lashed out at San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and blasted Puerto Ricans as wanting “everything to be done for them.”

The morning of his visit to the island, the president said Puerto Ricans “have to give us more help.” After arriving, Trump chided locals for hurting the U.S. budget and told them they hadn’t suffered a “real catastrophe.”

It culminated in the president admonishing the “politically motivated ingrates” on the island.

As best as I can tell, he’s made no similar comments about any other Americans who’ve suffered from natural disasters this year.

Go ahead, Mike Pence, tell us another one about how the Trump administration “stands with” the people of Puerto Rico.

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