At a briefing in Puerto Rico on hurricane relief efforts, Donald Trump acknowledged and gave the floor to all of the officials at the table with him — except the woman who challenged his paltry responses to her country's devastation.
Donald Trump went to Puerto Rico Tuesday morning to survey the damage across the island after Hurricane Maria, and to be briefed on relief and recovery efforts.
After over a week of horrid statements and an utter lack of urgency about the federal government’s response to the storm, as well as sharp criticism and pleas from the mayor of San Juan, it could have been a moment for Trump to attempt to compensate for his shameful behavior.
But then, this is Donald Trump we’re talking about.
Rather than try to exercise a bit of diplomacy, and to show Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz some compassion and respect, he continued to treat her abominably, piling on to the multiple attacks he unleashed on her days before.
Before the briefing, as Trump moved through the crowd greeting everyone, he did momentarily shake hands with Cruz. According to the pool report, Cruz told him, “I just wanted to say, sir, it’s not about politics.” Trump did not respond, and in fact simply walked away from her.
And then he added further insult by pretending like she simply didn’t exist.
Sitting at folding tables with various officials, where Cruz was seated at the farthest spot from Trump, Trump acknowledged them in turn, and gave many of them the chance to speak: Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón; Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, whom Trump pointedly noted “did not play politics”; Linda McMahon, the head of Trump’s Small Business Administration; Mick Mulvaney, his budget director; his chief of staff, John Kelly; and officials from the Navy, Army, and Coast Guard.
One person he did not call out by name or ask to speak? Cruz, a woman who vocally and repeatedly called him out for his lack of leadership, his nonexistent empathy, and his whiny defenses that helping Puerto Rico is so difficult because it’s surrounded by “big water.”
As MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell noted, it was a “pretty deliberate slight.”
In this instance, his childish silent treatment is especially galling. Cruz expressed her frustration and anger over Trump’s apathetic response to the grueling struggle millions of her fellow Puerto Ricans — American citizens — are experiencing in the wake of the massive storm.
The island is almost entirely without power; there is little food, water, or fuel; hospitals are shutting down; and people are dying.
Cruz was begging for help. But all Trump heard was a lack of praise for him. And so all he had for her was a wan handshake for the cameras and a very public and pointed cold shoulder.