WASHINGTON – Is President Donald Trump aware residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands are, in fact, Americans? It’s unclear.
In a speech Friday, Trump said he’d recently “met with the president of the Virgin Islands” to discuss the recent hurricanes that have devastated Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the island.
But Trump could not have spoken to the “president of the Virgin Islands” because, of course, he is the president of the U.S. Virgin Islands, whose residents are U.S. citizens.
Perhaps Trump was referring to the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Kenneth Mapp, with whom the president met in early October.
The U.S. Virgin Islands government reluctantly responded to Trump’s gaffe.
“I would not want to in any way involve the governor of the Virgin Islands in any national dispute in the media about what the president knows about the relationship between the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Sam Topp, deputy communications director for Governor Mapp, tells Newsweek.
“It doesn’t serve our purpose to participate in the national hoopla over whether Donald Trump is making competent comments or not. Just look at the documents that govern the relationship [between the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands], and you can determine how relevant or irrelevant, or advised or ill-advised, his comments were. There’s no president of the United States other than the president of the United States,” Topp adds.
Trump could arguably benefit a great deal from a lesson in the structure of the U.S. government (and perhaps a geography refresher).
Did Trump just say that he met with the “president” of the Virgin Islands?
The president also revealed that he doesn’t really know the location of Puerto Rico, describing it in a talk with reporters as “an island sitting in the middle of an ocean — and it’s a big ocean, a really, really big ocean.”
Trump was correct that the Atlantic Ocean is a thing and it is quite large, but Puerto Rico is by no means “in the middle” of it. Actually, the Atlantic Ocean doesn’t technically begin until the “eastern edge” of the Caribbean, which is roughly 550 miles east of Puerto Rico, according to the International Hydrographic Organization borders universally accepted.
Puerto Rico is in the Caribbean Sea, not the ocean.
The president has been heavily criticized for how he’s handled the recovery effort in Puerto Rico, and some feel he’s not granted nearly enough attention to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
On Thursday, Trump tweeted, “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in [Puerto Rico] forever!”
Puerto Ricans and Democrats in Congress slammed the president’s comments.
“It is not that you do not get it; you are incapable of fulfilling the moral imperative to help the people of PR. Shame on you!” Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, wrote on Twitter.
New York Representative Nydia Velazquez added in a statement that Trump’s comments “called into question his ability to lead” and she called on him to honor his “responsibility for our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.” – News Week