A spokesperson for the White House referred to Puerto Rico as “that country” during a live television interview — twice — while providing false facts about the administration’s response to Hurricane Maria.
Hogan Gidley joined MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson on Tuesday and slammed Puerto Rico’s “systematic mismanagement of the goods and services we sent them” after the hurricane spurred a natural disaster across the island, with nearly 3,000 people having died in its aftermath.
Echoing Donald Trump’s claims from earlier this week, Mr Gidley also falsely claimed the island received “more money than any state or territory in history,” to which Ms Jackson corrected him by pointing out the fact that Louisiana received more recovery funding after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“They have now come to $91bn [£69bn] with all we’ve done in that country,” Mr Gidley said on Tuesday.
The White House spokesperson continued attacking Puerto Rico’s leadership, saying the governor was casting blame on others for “not having a good grid and not having a good system in that country.”
He also dodged questions from Ms Jackson as to whether or not the president considered Puerto Ricans just as American as citizens living in states like Texas and Louisiana.
“You’re rolling your eyes and I don’t know why you’re rolling your eyes,” the host said to him.
The president launched a series of attacks against Puerto Rico on Twitter earlier on Tuesday morning, writing, “all their politicians do is complain [and] ask for more money.”
“The pols are grossly incompetent, spend the money foolishly or corruptly, & only take from USA,” he continued. “The best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico is President Donald J. Trump. So many wonderful people, but with such bad Island leadership and with so much money wasted.”
Mr Trump added, "Cannot continue to hurt our Farmers and States with these massive payments, and so little appreciation!"
Ms Jackson pressed Mr Gidley for clarity on Mr Trump’s false claims about his administration’s response to the disaster, fact-checking him in real-time on the morning news show.
“These are things that not trust,” she said, referring to the White House’s claims about Puerto Rico disaster relief funding. “Just from a factual basis,” she added.
Mr Gidley later clarified that calling Puerto Rico another country was a "slip of the tongue".
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