FEMA administrator Brock Long defended a series of tweets from President Trump blasting San Juan’s mayor for criticizing the relief efforts following Hurricane Maria.
In an interview on CNN, Long suggested that Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital city, has failed to connect with a command center FEMA set up on the island to help with the relief effort.
“The problem that we have with the mayor unfortunately is that unity of command is ultimately what’s needed to be successful in this response,” Long told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield.
“What we need is for the mayor, the good mayor, to make her way to the joint field office and get plugged into what’s going on and be successful,” he continued, adding that, “I think that’s the bottom line on that tweet.”
Earlier in the day, Trump blasted Cruz over what he apparently saw as criticism over his response to the Category 4 hurricane, which hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20. The storm destroyed much of Puerto Rico’s power grid and has left at least two dozen people dead. Many residents are without safe drinking water and fuel.
Cruz has become a more prominent critic of the Trump administration’s relief effort in recent days, appearing frequently on TV to call for additional government resources.
Trump responded early Saturday with a series of tweets accusing Cruz of using the crisis for political purposes. He also suggested that Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, was not pulling its weight in the relief effort.
Trump was heavily criticized for the comments.
Other members of the Trump administration responded forcefully to Cruz.
Dan Scavino Jr., the director of social media for the White House, called her “the perfect example of an opportunistic politician.”
One anonymous White House official told an ABC News reporter that they were not sure if Trump will meet with Cruz when he visits Puerto Rico next week.
The official asserted that Cruz has “refused” to visit the FEMA command center.
“Maybe too busy doing tv?” the White House official told ABC’s Katherine Faulders.