In a tweet sent out Sunday evening, President Donald Trump claimed that, "nobody could have done what [he'd] done for #PuertoRico with so little appreciation." He also attached a video purporting to show, "What the fake news media will not show you in Puerto Rico..." This is the latest instance of Trump taking responsibility for aid sent to Puerto Rico after the historic Hurricane Maria devastated the island over two weeks ago.
The video posted with the tweet shows a series of people handing out aid, largely in the form of water bottles, to people of Puerto Rico. The end includes a small montage of Trump handing out several items and shaking hands with people during a recent visit.
Trump seems to have become increasingly sensitive to accusations and reports that he did not respond to the hurricane's devastation quickly enough. He has tweeted repeatedly that the "fake news" media has misrepresented the situation on the ground.
"Despite the Fake News Media in conjunction with the Dems, an amazing job is being done in Puerto Rico. Great people!" he tweeted on Sept. 30.
On Oct. 1 he tweeted, "We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico. Outside of the Fake News or politically motivated ingrates,..."
Even as the Puerto Rican government reports, according to its website, that the vast majority of homes are without power, Trump has continued to rail against critics who say that more could be done.
Some critics have argued that aid could have been preemptively sent to the area around Puerto Rico — that, in other words, the United States didn't need to wait until after the devastation to begin responding.
In a press conference on Sept. 26, Trump blamed geography for the delay.
"It’s out in the ocean," he said of the U.S. territory. "You can’t just drive your trucks there from other states.”
Trump has also been engaging in a public relations battle with Carmen Cruz, Mayor of San Juan, over the status of repairs and assistance. Repeatedly, Trump has said that aid efforts in Puerto Rico are going well. And repeatedly, Cruz has tweeted and given interviews in which she says that the aid and response from the United States has been insufficient. In September, Trump tweeted about the leader, and called her out by name.
"The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump," he said on Sept. 30. In a follow up tweet he added, "...Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help."
On Sunday, Oct. 8, Cruz sent out a litany of tweets, claiming FEMA was not responding to her requests and tagging various media agencies and reporters.
"Increasingly painful to [understand] the american people want to help and US Gov does not want to help. WE NEED WATER!" she tweeted Sunday morning. She sent the tweet out at least five times, each time tagging a different person or agency, including the United Nations and singer Ricky Martin.
Cruz has also worn t-shirts emblazoned with messages of help during TV interviews, such as the one which said "Help Us, We Are Dying" during an interview with CNN.
Hurricane Maria was reportedly the strongest storm to hit the island in 80 years, and predictions about its devastation were released days in advance. In the aftermath, Trump was accused of paying more attention to political protests taking place in the NFL than he has to the more than 3 million Americans grappling with Hurricane Maria's effects. His tweets, where he often offers candid thoughts on the day's news, were disproportionally and significantly weighted toward the football league in the week following the storm, according to CNN.
It's important to underscore that the United States is deploying help to Puerto Rico. But, when the Mayor of San Juan is literally begging for more help on the internet, it becomes increasingly alarming how frequently Trump has chosen to insist that relief efforts are actually going well.