Donald Trump’s Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke flew to Puerto Rico today and attempted a do-over on yesterday’s public relations disaster in which she said the government’s response to hurricane devastation on the island is a “really a good news story.”
At an island presser, she told Gov. Ricardo Rossello that his team’s work has been “exemplary” and that she’d arrived to “make sure I had all the assets we need to continue the recovery.”
Duke said the integration of the various teams involved in the effort “will set the standard for the future.”
“The people in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands I know are suffering,” she allowed.
“Yesterday I was asked if I was happy and satisfied with the recovery. I am proud of what is being done,” she said, getting down to do-over. “I am proud of Americans helping Americans, friends and strangers alike. I am proud of the work DOD and FEMA and the territory, along with first responders, are doing,” she clarified.
“Clearly the situation here in Puerto Rico… is not satisfactory. But things are getting better. And the progress today is very, very strong,” she said, making her critics’ previous point.
She ended saying “thank you for your concern” about “this time that is so challenging for so many,” presumably directed at reporters who had been covering the increasingly dire situation and lack of relief in some areas.
On Friday morning, the mayor of San Juan blasted Duke after hearing a clip of Duke standing in front of the White House saying the government’s response to date is “really a good news story in terms of reaching victims” and “limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane.”
“Damn it, this is not a good news story. This is a people-are-dying story,” shot back Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz. “This is a life or death story.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.