President Donald Trump does, in fact, believe the people of Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens worthy of the same relief efforts from the federal government as the residents of Florida and Texas, Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly said Thursday during a press briefing at the White House.
When asked how that sentiment translates into Trump’s Thursday morning tweets — where he said Congress would decide how much funding the U.S. territory gets and that federal recovery efforts couldn’t stay in Puerto Rico “forever!” — Kelly said his tweet was “exactly accurate.”
“The minute you go anywhere as a first responder, and this applies certainly to the military, you’re trying very hard, you’re working very hard to work yourself out of a job,” he said. “There will be a period in which we hope, sooner rather than later, to where the U.S. military and FEMA, generally speaking, can withdraw because then the government and the people of Puerto Rico are recovering sufficiently to start the process of rebuilding.”
He said Trump and Kelly have a “great relationship” with the governor of Puerto Rico and vowed the U.S. would “stand with those American citizens in Puerto Rico until the job is done.”
“The tweet about FEMA … is extremely accurate. They’re not going to be there forever and the whole point is to start to work yourself out of a job and transition to the rebuilding process.”