During an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Friday, homeland security adviser Tom Bossert blamed Puerto Rico’s large debt for the administration’s sluggish response to the disaster created by the hurricanes.
The “New Day” host asked Bossart if the White House was ready to do whatever it takes to help US citizens after the natural disaster.
“We always have big discussions after disasters, as to the cost,” Bossert replied. “But what you need to know is that Puerto Rico started this one $72 billion in debt, so the president is 1,000 percent right. We’re going to have to figure out how to handle this as we move forward.”
Cuomo jumped in and asked what Puerto Rico’s debt has to do with the White House’s responsibility to aid its people like it had with Florida and Texas.
“The idea is, Chris, with them being in debt, they don’t have enough ready liquid cash to pay their normal share like Florida and Texas had ready (to) share,” Bossert said. “So what we’re ready to do, and the president has already done it, is give a 180-day cost-share adjustment. The federal government is paying 100 percent of the tab to make sure lives are saved. We’ll worry about the big decisions later — that’s the president’s point.”
Bossert also complained about CNN’s coverage of the disaster relief effort from the administration.
“I think the criticism yesterday from you and your network wasn’t well placed,” he said. “I think what President Trump did was put forces in place before the storm, not slow to respond after it. We had a four-star admiral in yesterday, your reporters were focusing on a three-star general.”
“There’s no question that you’ve made changes to improve the logistical command on the ground in Puerto Rico,” Cuomo replied. “That’s just true — we’re seeing it every day. Why did you have to change it? Because it was inadequate. You can see that as criticism, I see it as an adjustment of reality.”