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- White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley called Puerto Rico, a US territory whose citizens are American, "that country" twice during a Tuesday interview.
- Gidley made the comments after President Donald Trump accused Puerto Rico’s leaders of mismanaging disaster relief funds in the wake of Hurricane Maria’s devastation in 2017.
- "Their governor has done a horrible job … He’s trying to find someone to take the blame off of him for not having a grid and not having a good system in that country," Gidley said.
- Gidley later said the comment was "a slip of the tongue."
White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley called Puerto Rico, a US territory whose citizens are American, "that country" twice during a Tuesday interview.
Gidley made the comments after President Donald Trump attacked Puerto Rico’s leaders in a series of Tuesday morning tweets and accused the island of mismanaging disaster relief funds in the wake of the devastating Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
Gidley reiterated the president’s argument and called claims that Trump has "other-ized" Puerto Ricans "ridiculous."
"They have had a systematic mismanagement of the goods and services we’ve sent to them," Gidley told MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson. "Their governor has done a horrible job … He’s trying to find someone to take the blame off of him for not having a grid and not having a good system in that country."
Gidley later said the phrasing was "a slip of the tongue."
At another point in the MSNBC interview, Jackson accused Gidley of rolling his eyes when she said that Puerto Ricans are US citizens.
"The president says Puerto Ricans are taking from the USA. Puerto Rico is part of the United States," Jackson said, referring to the president’s Tuesday tweet. "There’s a lot of confusion over why the president would say this and what he understands and how he views the people of Puerto Rico."
"That’s ridiculous," Gidley responded. "He’s actually already traveled to Puerto Rico after this horrific hurricane — he was there."
Trump attacked Democrats on Tuesday morning for opposing a Republican disaster-relief bill for victims of hurricanes, wild fires, and other natural disasters across the country that Democrats argued didn’t include enough food assistance for Puerto Rico. Republicans simultaneously opposed a version passed by House Democrats that included significantly more funding for Puerto Rico.
"Puerto Rico got 91 Billion Dollars for the hurricane, more money than has ever been gotten for a hurricane before, & all their local politicians do is complain & ask for more money. The pols are grossly incompetent, spend the money foolishly or corruptly, & only take from USA," Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning, adding that Puerto Rico’s governor is "crazed and incompetent."
Puerto Rico has not, in fact, received $91 billion in aid following the hurricane and the administration told the Washington Post that the figure was a high-end estimate for the total amount that will be needed over time. The island has so far received about $11 billion and a total of $41 billion in aid has been committed.
In comparison, the US government spent more than $120 billion on recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina.
The president went on, "The best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico is President Donald J. Trump. So many wonderful people, but with such bad Island leadership and with so much money wasted."
In recent months, Trump has disputed Puerto Rico’s death toll following the hurricane, falsely accused Puerto Rico of using its disaster relief funds to pay off its debt, and proposed redirecting disaster-relief funds to his border wall construction.
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