Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday launched a blistering attack against President Donald Trump for his near-silence on the humanitarian disaster in Puerto Rico, questioning the president’s focus on a days-long campaign against NFL athletes on Twitter while the U.S. territory has struggled with universal devastation.
“I’m not sure he knows that Puerto Ricans are American citizens,” Clinton told Sirius XM’s Zerlina Maxwell on Monday afternoon.
Five days after Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, nearly the entire island is without power, agriculture has been decimated and residents are running out of clean water and fuel. The territory’s governor warned that the region was on the brink of a “humanitarian crisis” and a “mass exodus.”
But apart from a series of tweets published on Monday night, President Trump has remained largely silent about the unfolding disaster. Trump acknowledged on Monday that the island was in “deep trouble,” but appeared to put much of the blame for the island’s predicament on its financial woes.
During appearances on Sirius XM and MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes,” Clinton described the president’s approach as a political calculus and being disinterest in the fate of the 3.5 million American residents living on the island.
“He doesn’t think that has any political relevance and it’s certainly not personally important,” Clinton told Chris Hayes on Monday evening. “He clearly doesn’t want to talk about Puerto Rico, more than 3.5 million American citizens, along with the U.S. Virgin Islands. Not interested, doesn’t say a word about it.”
Hayes, who was hosting his show while the president tweeted, expressed his own disbelief at Trump’s short tweets just moments after Puerto Rico’s governor told him that 60 percent of the island’s population had no access to clean water.
Clinton comments echoed those she made just hours earlier while chatting with Sirius XM’s Maxwell.
“He has not said one word about them, about other American citizens in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Clinton said, before Trump tweeted.
Clinton also criticized Trump for his silence on Puerto Rico’s recovery while devoting several days toward attacks against hundreds of NFL players who knelt in protest against the president, demonstrations that continued through “Monday Night Football.”
“He attacks black athletes as he did starting with his rally in Alabama ... he attacks them for protesting peacefully for equality, for standing up for what they believe. And he does it once again to dog whistle to his base,” Clinton said. “It’s quite telling that he is willing to attack black athletes, he never says anything of an insulting manner towards white supremacists or neo-Nazis or Ku Klux Klanners or Vladimir Putin, right?”