President Donald Trump spent Sunday afternoon attending a high-profile golf tournament, signaling that he will not be cowed by critics of his response to Hurricane Maria.
Earlier Sunday, Trump had scoffed at “politically motivated ingrates” who questioned his administration’s commitment to rebuilding Puerto Rico after the pulverizing storm. He assured Americans there had been “tremendous progress.”
The remarks, in tweets and from the manicured green, demonstrated Trump’s defiance in the face of charges that he has been distracted and his administration slow to respond to the U.S. territory’s struggle to restore power and basic services in the two weeks after the storm. Neither those charges, nor his past criticism of his predecessor for golfing during a crisis, kept him from attending The Presidents Cup in New Jersey.
After staying Saturday at his own New Jersey golf club, Trump traveled Sunday to Jersey City, where he spent the afternoon in the hospitality suite perched above the Liberty National Golf Club’s 14th hole. He was on hand to present the tournament’s trophy to Team U.S.A., which he dedicated to the people of Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida still recovering from hurricane devastation.
“I want to just remember them and we’re going to dedicate this trophy to all of those people that went through so much, that we love,” he said, adding of Puerto Rico: “We have it under really great control.”
As Trump spoke, someone in the crowd accused him of not caring about Puerto Rico, using a vulgarism to make the point.
Returning to the White House, Trump told reporters Sunday evening: “We’re doing really well on Puerto Rico. I’ll be going there on Tuesday. Tremendous progress being made. We’re getting the roads open, we’re getting a lot of things done — really at a record clip. So we’re very happy with that.”
Trump spent years hammering his predecessor, Barack Obama, both for playing golf and leaving Washington too often.
“President Obama should have gone to Louisiana days ago, instead of golfing,” he tweeted in August of last year, after severe flooding in the state. “Too little, too late!”
In 2014, Obama was criticized for playing golf right after speaking to reporters about the execution of journalist James Foley by Islamic State militants. And President George W. Bush was faulted for not immediately returning to Washington from his Crawford, Texas, ranch after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said that Trump…