AP NEWS

Ricardo Rossello, Puerto Rico governor, blasts White House, calls Trump a ‘bully’ over disaster aid

March 28, 2019

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossell took an aggressive stance against the White House Thursday, saying his officials will not be pushed around as they fight for Hurricane Maria disaster relief.

“If the bully gets close, I’ll punch the bully in the mouth. Just like that. It would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage,“the governor said in an interview with CNN.

President Trump and Mr. Rossell reportedly had a good relationship immediately after the hurricane in September of 2017, with Mr. Trump tweeting a quote from the governor, “The Administration and the President, every time we’ve spoken, they’ve delivered......”

Over the last couple of months, the relationship has soured, with Puerto Rican officials reporting senior officials have aggressively denied their asks for meeting with the president, including White House trade adviser Peter Navarro allegedly telling officials, “Your governor is f***ing things up.”

Mr. Rossell said he wants to meet with Mr. Trump to provide him with accurate information about what his island nation needs despite his outspoken stance.

“My consideration is, I just want to have 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,” he said.

“What I am aiming to do is make sure that reason prevails, that empathy prevails, that equality prevails and that we can have a discussion,” the governor added.

During a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans on Tuesday, Mr. Trump reportedly criticized the amount of disaster aid that Puerto Rico is receiving, pegging the number at $91 billion. Mr. Rossell said, “Trump is receiving misleading information from his own staff.”

Mr. Rossell was on Capitol Hill Thursday speaking with lawmakers about Puerto Rico’s statehood, which would allow the island more leverage to receive aide.

Dave Boyer contributed to this article