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Report: Trump Played Golf and Ignored the Puerto Rico Disaster Until He Saw Pictures on TV

Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 6:05:12 pm

As the horrifying extent of the disaster in Puerto Rico emerged, Donald Trump basically checked out and went on a four-day golfing vacation: Lost weekend: How Trump’s time at his golf club hurt the response to Maria.

As Hurricane Maria made landfall that Wednesday, there was a frenzy of activity publicly and privately. The next day, President Trump called local officials on the island, issued an emergency declaration and pledged that all federal resources would be directed to help.

But then for four days after that — as storm-ravaged Puerto Rico struggled for food and water amid the darkness of power outages — Trump and his top aides effectively went dark themselves.

Trump jetted to New Jersey that Thursday night to spend a long weekend at his private golf club there, save for a quick trip to Alabama for a political rally. Neither Trump nor any of his senior White House aides said a word publicly about the unfolding crisis.

Trump did hold a meeting at his golf club that Friday with half a dozen Cabinet officials — including Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, who oversees disaster response — but the gathering was held to discuss his new refugee travel ban, not the hurricane. Duke and Trump spoke briefly about Puerto Rico, but did not talk again until Tuesday, an administration official said.

When did he finally start to deal with this monumental disaster? When he saw the damage on TV.

Even though local officials had said publicly as early as Thursday that the island was “destroyed,” the sense of urgency didn’t begin to penetrate the White House until Monday, when images of the utter destruction and desperation — and criticism of the administration’s response —began to appear on television, one senior administration official said.

And tonight, as the mayor of San Juan pleads for help...

San Juan mayor pleads for federal help after hurricane: "We are dying here"Read more: https://t.co/MaHffyRIKK pic.twitter.com/LPqpXaFP21

— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 30, 2017

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Trump is jetting off for another golfing vacation, at government expense, while people die in Puerto Rico.

Pres. Trump has departed for his golf course home in New Jersey aboard Air Force One. pic.twitter.com/p8XCYhhEwF

— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) September 29, 2017

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The Bush response to Katrina was awful. This is much worse.