President Trump arrived in Puerto Rico on Tuesday to survey the damage from Hurricane Maria and meet with local and federal officials working on the relief efforts on the island, and he got straight to work blaming and boasting.
In an airport hangar, where he sat with Melania Trump and Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, Trump complimented the governor, without forgetting to throw in the “high marks” he himself got from Rosselló.
But Trump—who recently complained after a tiff with San Juan’s mayor that Puerto Rico “want[ed] everything done for them"—went ahead and complained some more about the burdens of the American territory in crisis:
I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack. Because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that’s fine.
He may have been referring to Puerto Rico’s $74 billion in debt, decade-old recession, or the costs of the hurricane relief effort. He then pivoted into a favorite pastime, bragging about numbers:
Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous—hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here, with really a storm that was just totally overbearing, nobody’s ever seen anything like this.
At this point, he conferred with Rosselló to check his numbers before continuing:
Sixteen people. Sixteen people certified. Sixteen people versus in the thousands.
Trump, after patting Rosselló on the arm as he compared the death count in Puerto Rico to a “real catastrophe like Katrina,” told the people around him to congratulate themselves.
You can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people. You can be very proud. Everybody around this table and everyone watching can be very proud of what’s taking place in Puerto Rico.
Trump’s arrival in Puerto Rico comes after strong criticism both from Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the U.S. that the federal government has been too slow in providing aid. On Tuesday, he again criticized the local response and said that locals “have to give us more help.” Of the federal government, he said it was “now acknowledged what a great job we’ve done.”