Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is warning the Trump administration he will fight back against President Trump’s “bullying” of the U.S. territory as it recovers from Hurricane Maria.
“If the bully gets close, I’ll punch the bully in the mouth,” Rosselló told CNN while speaking about a reportedly tense exchange at the White House on Wednesday. “It would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage.”
Aides to Rosselló told CNN that during a tense encounter at the White House on Wednesday they were “warned by senior White House officials that representatives for the US territory were pushing too hard to arrange a meeting aimed at discussing the island’s dire situation with the President.”
Trump has declined their requests to schedule a meeting to discuss recovery efforts with Rosselló despite his and his aides’.
“You guys have to f—ing stop with the meeting request,” one White House official said, Puerto Rican officials told CNN.
Sources at the meeting added that White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told the group, “Your governor is f—ing things up.”
“We need to confront the bullying that’s happening in Puerto Rico, we need to confront the inequities and the inequality that we’re dealing with,” Rosselló told The Hill, adding that he will fight back against whoever bullies Puerto Rico.
“You don’t fight back with kicking and screaming, you fight back with data. You fight back by educating, you fight back by bringing solutions, and that’s what I’m committed to do, it’s a different type of narrative,” Rosselló said.
The battle this week between the White House and Rosselló’s office erupted after it was reported Trump told Republican senators on Capitol Hill that he questioned the wisdom of directing more storm relief aid to Puerto Rico, despite the fact that billions of dollars in funds have already by authorized by Congress.
In the closed door meeting with Senate Republicans, Trump went out of his way to point out the totals of disaster relief aid that has been distributed in the wake of a series of storms and hurricanes in 2017. It is a pet issue Trump has had for months — mentioning Puerto Rico’s finances and total disaster relief in negative terms repeatedly in meetings with lawmakers and staff as they’ve worked through iterations of the next disaster relief bill.
“The point was – are we spending the money wisely?” Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican said. “I have nothing against helping the people of Puerto Rico, but we have got to spend the money wisely.”