'A moral imperative' – Puerto Rico's Governor pleads for international help as President Trump rages with mayor

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Associated Press

President Donald Trump on today scoffed at "politically motivated ingrates" who had questioned his administration's commitment to rebuilding Puerto Rico after a pulverising hurricane and said the federal government had done "a great job with the almost impossible situation".

The tweets, from a president ensconced in his New Jersey golf club for the weekend and set to attend an international golf competition near New York City before returning to the White House, sought defend Washington's attentiveness to recovery efforts on a US territory in dire straits almost two weeks after Hurricane Maria struck.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz on Friday accused the Trump administration of "killing us with the inefficiency" after the storm.

She begged the president, who is set to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday, to "make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives," and appealed for help "to save us from dying."

1 NEWS US correspondent Rebecca Wright on Trump's Twitter war on San Juan's Carmen Yulin Cruz.
Source: Breakfast

Cruz said Sunday that "there's only one goal, and it's saving lives," adding that all she did "was ask for help."

"I know the good heart of the American people and I know that when a mayday sound goes off, they come to the rescue," she said in a television interview.

Trump's weekend tweets have shown him to be contemptuous of any complaints about a laggard US response to the natural disaster that has imperiled the island's future.

He has repeatedly blamed the press for what he sees as unfair coverage of the situation on the ground, where power is out and many people are without food, water and fuel.

"We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico. Outside of the Fake News or politically motivated ingrates ... people are now starting to recognize the amazing work" done by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the military, the president tweeted.

The day before, Trump had lashed out at Cruz, deriding "poor leadership ability" by her and others in Puerto Rico "who are not able to get their workers to help".

He added, without elaboration: "They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort."

In times of disasters, leaders often shelve partisan differences. But Trump has a penchant for punching back against critics, whatever the circumstances.

"When the president gets attack, he attacks back," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, who adding that the mayor's comments were "unfair, given what the federal government has done".

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