Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló had harsh words for President Donald Trump this week, according to a report from CNN.
Rosselló called the president a “bully” after reports surfaced that the White House doesn’t want more aid going to Puerto Rican hurricane recovery efforts. Trump and other Republicans questioned whether the aid was being spent wisely.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) questioned the spending in Puerto Rico.
“The point was — are we spending the money wisely?” Graham asked. “I have nothing against helping the people of Puerto Rico, but we have got to spend the money wisely.”
In a statement, the White House explained that it plans to continue aid to Puerto Rico despite concerns about its spending. The White House noted that it wants to ensure the island recovers from the hurricane damage, but it doesn’t want American taxpayers funding a bailout for its government that was in debt prior to the hurricane:
The Trump Administration is committed to the complete recovery of Puerto Rico. The island has received unprecedented support and is on pace to receive tens of billions of dollars from taxpayers. However, the Trump Administration will not put taxpayers on the hook to correct a decades-old spending crisis that has left the island with deep-rooted economic problems.
“If the bully gets close, I’ll punch the bully in the mouth,” Rosselló told CNN in response to the report. “It would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage.”
Rosselló also denied that Puerto Rican officials have mishandled the money, telling CNN:
“He treats us as second class citizens, that’s for sure. And my consideration is I just want 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. I don’t think anyone can beat the President in a kicking and screaming match. What I am aiming to do is make sure reason prevails, that empathy prevails, that equality prevails, and that we can have a discussion.”
For obvious reasons, these comments aren’t expected to go over well with the White House. CNN reported that White House trade adviser Peter Navarro warned other Puerto Rican officials that they need to get Rosselló under control or it could negatively impact future negotiations.
“Your governor is f**king things up,” Navarro reportedly said.
This is not the first clash Puerto Rican officials have had with Trump. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and the president have clashed repeatedly since Hurricane Maria, as IJR previously reported.