In an exclusive interview with CNN, Puerto Rico said Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, that he would not sit back and let his officials be bullied by the White House.
"If the bullet gets close, I hit the bullet in the mouth," Rosselló said. "It would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage." Wednesday was warned by senior White House officials that US territory representatives pushed too hard to arrange a meeting to discuss the island's grim situation with the president.
Despite their requests, Trump has refused to schedule a meeting with Rosselló to discuss recovery efforts starting almost two years after the storm hit.
According to Portuguese officials, white house trading adviser Peter Navarro along with other senior officials anything but threatened the island's representatives during the meeting.
"You have to stop the meeting request, "an official said according to the Portuguese officials.
" Your governor are f *** things up, "added Navarro according to sources at the meeting.
The White House did not immediately come to the meeting.
This week's battle between the White House and Rosselló's office eruptions after it was reported that Trump told Republican senators on Capitol Hill that he questioned the vision of leading more storm relief to Puerto Rico, despite the fact that Billions of dollars in funds have already been approved by Congress.
In the closed door meeting with the Senate Republicans, Trump went out of his way to point out the totals of disaster relief that has been distributed in the wake of a series of storms and hurricanes in 201
"The point was – are we using the money wisely?" Late. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican said. "I have nothing against helping the people of Puerto Rico, but we need the money wisely."
Trump, senators, then used a chart to show the difference between what Puerto Rico has received over other hurricane-affecting regions like Texas and Florida. At one point, Trump noted that Puerto Rico has received more than $ 90 billion in support.
While Congress has set aside nearly $ 20 billion in disaster funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, only a small portion of it – $ 1.5 billion – is approved for actual expenditure. Legislation that would send more funds to the island as part of a major disaster relief package has been tied up in the Senate.
White house officials did not deny Trump's remarks to Republican senators and defended the administration's management of disaster relief for the island.
"The Trump administration is committed to the complete remediation of Puerto Rico. The island has received unprecedented support and is in the process of receiving tens of thousands of dollars from taxpayers," said White House spokesman Judd Deere in a statement.
"But the Trump administration will not put taxpayers on the hook to rectify a decade-old expense crisis that has left the island with profound economic problems," Deere added.
Rosselló said the president is working on poor information from White House officials.
"It is unfortunate that we should hear this. These statements lack empathy, but more are missing the true facts of the case," said Rosselló in response to Trump's comments. "They are not aligned with the truth and reality, No. 1. And No. 2, I just think we should end this fight of words and just recognize that we are not his political opponents, we are his citizens" the governor added .
Rosselló is in Washington to meet with lawmakers as part of a new push for statehood for Puerto Rico, a move that the governor considers necessary for the island to have the leverage it needs to speed up recovery money for territory.
Trump has complained that Puerto Rico is wasting the money he has already received, a claim that Rosselló insists is flat wrong.
"He treats us as second-class citizens, that's for sure," he said. "And my consideration is that I just want to be able to explain to him why the data and information he gets is wrong. I don't think getting into a kicking and screaming battle with the president, doing something good. don't think anyone can beat the president in a kicking and screaming battle. What I intend to do is make sure there is reason that empathy rules that equality prevails and that we can discuss. "