In an exclusive interview with CNN, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló said he would not sit back and let his White House officials harass him.
"When the tyrant comes near, I will beat the tyrant." In the mouth, "Rosselló said," It would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage. "
Rosselló's top aides told CNN that they were warned by high-ranking White House officials during a tense White House meeting on Wednesday that representatives of the US territory would press too hard to arrange a meeting aimed at discussing the island's dire situation with the president.
Despite their demands, Trump has refused to arrange a meeting with Rosselló to to discuss the recovery efforts taking place almost two years after the storm.
Representatives of Puerto Rico, White House Trade Adviser, Peter Navarro, along with other senior officials, threatened the island's representatives during the meeting.
"Yours Guys must stop asking for the meeting, "an official According to the Puerto Rican officials, he said," Your governor bri It blows things up, "Navarro added, sources in the congregation said.
The White House did not start immediately
The fight this week between the White House and Rosselló's office broke out after it was reported that Trump told the Republican Senators on Capitol Hill that he questioned the wisdom despite the fact that more help was being directed to storm relief to Puerto Rico billions of dollars have already been approved by Congress.
At the meeting with the Republicans in the Senate, Trump made an effort to point out the sum of disaster relief that had been distributed in a series of terrorist attacks in 201
"The point was – are we spending the money wisely?" Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina. "I do not mind helping people in Puerto Rico, but we have to spend the money wisely."
Trump, senators said, then used a graph to show the difference between what Puerto Rico had received compared to other hurricanes. affect regions like Texas and Florida. At one point, Trump found that Puerto Rico had received more than $ 90 billion in aid.
While Congress has provided nearly $ 20 billion in disaster relief from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, only a small fraction of it – $ 1.5 billion – is allowed for actual spending. The Senate passed laws that would send more money to the island as part of a major disaster relief package.
White House officials do not deny Trump's remarks to Republican senators and defend the management of disaster relief by administering the island.
"The Trump government is committed to the full recovery of Puerto Rico, and the island has received unprecedented support and is on its way to receiving tens of billions of dollars from taxpayers," White House spokesman Judd Deere said. in a statement.
"The Trump government, however, will not get taxpayers to correct a decades-old spending crisis that is weighing on the island with deep-rooted economic woes," Deere added.
Rosselló said the president is working on bad information provided by White House officials.
"It is unfortunate that we need to hear that, these statements have no empathy, but they lack the true facts of the matter," Rosselló replied to Trump's comments. "They do not agree with the truth and the reality, # 1. And # 2, I think we have to end this fight of words and just realize that we are not his political opponents, we are his citizens." added the governor.
Rosselló is in Washington to meet with legislators as part of a new impetus to statehood for Puerto Rico, a move the governor considers necessary for the island to leverage it for speeding recovery requires the territory.
Trump has complained that Puerto Rico is wasting the money he has already received, an allegation that Rosselló is strongly wrong about.
"He treats us as second-class citizens, that's for sure," he said. "And I think I just want to have the opportunity to explain to him why the data and information he's getting are wrong, and I do not think it's good to go into a screaming and screaming game with the president. I do not think that anyone can beat the president in a screaming and screaming fight, I want reason to prevail, empathy, equality and we can have a discussion. "