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After signing emergency, Trump says Puerto Rico one of 'most corrupt places on Earth'

By Clyde Hughes & Danielle Haynes
After signing emergency, Trump says Puerto Rico one of 'most corrupt places on Earth'
President Donald Trump visits Carolina, Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria passed on October 3, 2017. File Photo by Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz/PRNG/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 28 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Wednesday approved a federal emergency for Puerto Rico -- amid a political spat with one of its leaders -- before Hurricane Dorian skirted the territory.

The declaration allows the island to receive federal funds to recover from the hurricane. Puerto Rico was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria two years ago.

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"The president's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures," the White House said in a statement.

Newly sworn-in Puerto Rican Gov. Wanda Vazquez Garced thanked Trump on Twitter, despite sharp criticisms between he and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz.

RELATED Tropical Storm Dorian aims for Puerto Rico; Florida, Bahamas on alert

"Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth," Trump tweeted Wednesday. "Their political system is broken and their politicians are either Incompetent or Corrupt. Congress approved Billions of Dollars last time, more than anyplace else has ever gotten, and it is sent to Crooked Pols. And by the way, I'm the best thing that's ever happened to Puerto Rico!"

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"I said yesterday that Trump needs to be [quiet], 'calm down' get out of the way and make way for those of us who are actually doing the work on the ground," Cruz answered. "Maybe Trump will understand this time around THIS IS NOT ABOUT HIM; THIS IS NOT ABOUT POLITICS; THIS IS ABOUT SAVING LIVES."

Tuesday, she slammed him for redirecting federal storm preparedness to security on the U.S.-Mexico border.

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"Could President Trump go any lower?" she asked.

FEMA said in a statement it's authorized to "identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency." Emergency protective measures, the agency added, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.

Dorian passed by Puerto Rico on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 1 storm, and while it caused some power outages and and flooding, the territory was largely spared any major damage.

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