Following a very strange, inaccurate presentation by President Donald Trump to Republican senators earlier this week on the amount of federal disaster relief funds given to Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has sent a message to the president essentially telling him that he’s tired of Trump’s bullshit.
“If the bully gets close, I’ll punch the bully in the mouth,” Rosselló said in an interview with CNN. “It would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage.”
Rosselló is currently in Washington to meet with members of Congress in an effort to grant Puerto Rico statehood, CNN reported, which Rosselló views as necessary to receive the disaster recovery funds it needs to continue the nearly-two-year-long process after Hurricane Maria.
At a weekly policy lunch on Tuesday, Trump, with the help of a misleading visual aid, questioned why Puerto Rico was getting $91 billion in aid, when Texas received $29 billion and South Carolina got $1.5 billion in aid for disaster recovery from storms. Puerto Rico, in fact, has not received even close to $91 billion—that figure is closer to the amount of damage the hurricane caused to the island, according to the Washington Post.
Following Trump’s joust at Puerto Rico, the latest in months of attacks on the island’s finances and accusations that it’s spending irresponsibly, Rosselló said Trump’s comments “are below the dignity of a sitting President of the United States. They continue to lack empathy, are irresponsible, regrettable and, above all, unjustified.”
“I invite the president to stop listening to ignorant and completely wrong advice,” Rosselló said at the time.
His thoughts shared with CNN today hit at Trump even harder. From CNN (emphasis mine):
Rosselló said the President is working off of bad information provided by White House officials.
“It’s unfortunate that we are having to hear this. These statements lack empathy, but more so they lack the true facts of the matter,” Rosselló said in response to Trump’s comments. “They’re not aligned with the truth and reality, No. 1. And No. 2, I just think we have to end this battle of words and just recognize we’re not his political adversaries, we’re his citizens,” the governor added.
“He 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. 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. What I am aiming to do is make sure reason prevails, that empathy prevails, that equality prevails, and that we can have a discussion.”
It’s not just Trump treating the Puerto Ricans with disrespect, but his administration too. Puerto Rican officials told CNN that on Wednesday, they were told by White House senior officials including trade adviser Peter Navarro that Puerto Rico was being too adamant in setting up a meeting between the governor and Trump. “You guys have to fucking stop with the meeting request,” one official reportedly said, while Navarro reportedly added: “Your governor is fucking things up.”
I don’t know, y’all. Maybe if the president actually gave a shit about helping Puerto Rico and the people who live there recover from the worst disaster to hit the island in modern history, Puerto Rican officials wouldn’t have to hound him for a meeting. But sure, Rosselló’s the one “fucking things up” here.
Either way, if Trump thinks dealing with Puerto Rico is going to get any easier any time soon, he’s got another thing coming—last week, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, an even more ferocious critic of the president and his response to Hurricane Maria, announced that she would run for governor of Puerto Rico in 2020.