President Donald Trump in an interview broadcast on Saturday defended his decision to throw rolls of paper towels into a crowd filled with people affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico on Tuesday.
He told former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, on the new Trinity Broadcasting Network show “Huckabee,” that the crowd was “having fun” and urging him to throw the paper towels. Trump added that the media had not covered the incident fairly.
“They had these beautiful, soft towels. Very good towels,” Trump said. “And I came in and there was a crowd of a lot of people. And they were screaming and they were loving everything. I was having fun, they were having fun. They said, ‘Throw ’em to me! Throw ’em to me Mr. President!'”
He continued: “The next day they said, ‘Oh, it was so disrespectful to the people.’ It was just a made-up thing.”
Trump also defended his administration’s response to Puerto Rico’s crisis following Hurricane Maria, which many had criticized as slower and more disorganized than the effort to assist Texas after Hurricane Harvey and Florida after Hurricane Irma.
Trump also took another dig at San Juan’s mayor Carmen Yulîn Cruz, who had drawn attention after several impassioned interviews with media where she pleaded for more relief efforts and slammed several comments Trump and his administration had made.
In his interview with Huckabee, Trump said Cruz was “not a capable person.”
“We have the Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, who didn’t attend meetings, who didn’t work with FEMA, who really did not do a very good job. In fact, did a very poor job,” Trump said. “And she was the lone voice that we saw – and of course that’s the only voice the media wanted to talk to. And she’s running for governor, big surprise.”
He was also criticized for his behavior during the visit, in which he downplayed the extent of the disaster by comparing the death toll to that of a “real catastrophe” like Hurricane Katrina, and accusing the island of throwing the federal budget “a little out of whack.”
In his interview with Huckabee, Trump responded that the criticisms of him and his administration’s efforts in Puerto Rico were “fake news.”
“There’s nothing else you can say about it,” Trump said.
Watch the full interview below: