‘If the bully gets close, I’ll punch the bully in the mouth…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) As tensions between the White House and Puerto Rico escalate over disaster relief efforts, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said he wouldn’t back down and allow President Trump to “bully” him.
“If the bully gets close, I’ll punch the bully in the mouth,” Rosselló told CNN last week. “It would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage.”
The island territory already faced close to $150 billion in debt due to poor fiscal management, which liberal politicians including Rosselló say was further compounded by the devastation of Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
Despite receiving billions in relief funding from multiple federal agencies, Puerto Rican officials said it was not enough to cover the rebuilding.
But Trump, pointing to the disparity between aid there and other regions hit by natural disasters, said it was too much.
He charged that the Puerto Rican government officials were responsible for wasting the aid money they had received.
Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
Most recently, Rosselló announced that its rebuilding included a costly plan to rely on 100 percent renewable energy.
White House officials reportedly warned the desparate Rosselló’s aides against pushing too hard for a meeting with Trump.
“You guys have to f***ing stop with the meeting request,” one White House official said, according to the Puerto Rican officials.
“Your governor is f***ing things up,” trade adviser Peter Navarro reportedly said.
The White House, however, denied the exchange and said Trump plans to meet with the governor in the near future.
“The White House recently helped set up important meetings between Governor Rosselló and HUD and FEMA leadership,” spokesman Judd Deere said. “We understand that the governor is not visiting until later in April and we look forward to once again helping set up productive conversations with Administration leaders to discuss the island’s recovery.”
It is unclear how Rosselló’s recent threat of physical violence might impact those negotiations.
Trump again defended his administration’s role in Puerto Rico’s recovery on Thursday.
“Puerto Rico has been taken care of better by Donald Trump than by any living human being and I think the people of Puerto Rico understand,” he told reporters.
However, Rosselló disputed Trump’s assertion, saying the data cited by the president was inaccurate.
“[Trump] treats us as second class citizens, that’s for sure,” he said. “And my consideration is I just want the opportunity to explain to him why the data and information he’s getting is wrong.”
While continuing his personal attack against Trump, Rosselló also appealed to the president’s sense of empathy to help the insolvent territory get back on its feet.
“I don’t think getting into a kicking and screaming match with the President does any good. I don’t think anyone can beat the President in a kicking and screaming match,” he said. “What I am aiming to do is make sure reason prevails, that empathy prevails, that equality prevails, and that we can have a discussion.”