White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders interrupted her Friday presser to announce that President Donald Trump plans to travel to Texas early next week, delivering the news as Hurricane Harvey was bearing down on that state.
Sanders said she would keep reporters posted as those plans “firmed up,” cutting off the presser minutes later because Trump was heading out the door to spend the weekend at Camp David.
It’s the first time the Trump administration has had to deal with a national disaster, a dozen years after the George W. Bush White House’s historic mishandling of Hurricane Katrina, in which 1,800 people died. Authorities forecast that as many as 17 million people could be in Harvey’s path this weekend and into next week.
Trump did not get off to a good start Friday morning, tweeting extensively in praise of himself and punching at perceived enemies but making absolutely no mention of his awareness that a catastrophic hurricane was barreling down on Texas and Louisiana.
Sanders’ second televised presser in as many days was seen as a do-over, though Trump did finally tweet on topic before her gathering — and about four hours after his initial early-morning Twitter blast.
Hurricane Harvey was upgraded to a Category 3 moments after Tom Bossert, Trump White House Homeland Security Adviser, took to Sanders’ podium to assure reporters that FEMA and the White House had learned a lot of lessons from Katrina in 2005, as had Congress and local governments.
Bossert said Trump would stay in touch all weekend with the governors of both states and will be as plugged in at Camp David as he would be in the White House.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott already had requested an emergency declaration, which Bossert said Trump’s administration was evaluating. “If it is appropriate to provide federal assistance, I believe the president will be very aggressive in moving forward,” he said.
Bossert insisted all of those orgs and non-governmental organizations such as the American Red Cross were “well postured” for the massive storm.
He also assured reporters that, during his morning briefing with Trump,, a photo of which POTUS had tweeted, the president’s “entire focus is on making America Great Again” and those Americans in the strom’s path, and he seemed not at all worrie about “geopolitical isuses or larger politicial consequences. “I was extremely happy with his leadership instincts on this,” Bossert said.
The National Hurricane Center has forecast “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding is expected across the middle and upper Texas coast from heavy rainfall of 15 to 25 inches, with isolated amounts as high as 35 inches, through Wednesday.”
Shortly after Sanders press briefing wrapped, President Trump was seen, with granddaughter in hand, boarding his helicopter in en route to Camp David. He shouted good luck to those in the hurricane’s path in response to a shouted question if he had a message for the local residents.