After Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico and left 3.4 million U.S. citizens on the island without adequate food, water, and fuel, Donald Trump faced criticism from both sides of the aisle for going days without mentioning the disaster. When he finally visited the devastated island, Trump made a series of gaffes including (but not limited to) tossing paper towels into a crowd of survivors as though he was at a ball game.
In a new interview with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (father of Trump's press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders), the president defended the spectacle and claimed that everyone was "having fun" during the aforementioned paper towel throwing.
"They had these beautiful, soft towels," Trump told Huckabee. "Very good towels. And I came in and there was a crowd of a lot of people. And they were screaming and they were loving everything. I was having fun, they were having fun. They said, ‘Throw ‘em to me! Throw ‘em to me, Mr. President!’ So next day they said, ‘Oh it was so disrespectful to the people.’ It was just a made-up thing. And also when I walked in, the cheering was incredible."
Huckabee, who is perhaps the least objective interviewer one could find, responded by telling Trump, "You were a rockstar!"
Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, approximately 90 percent of the island remains without power. Although Trump has done little more than throw paper towels and offer "comforting" words such as Maria "wasn't a real catastrophe like Katrina," rescue and relief efforts are being carried out by the Puerto Rican government and Americans on the mainland.
Meanwhile, Pitbull deployed his private jet to rescue cancer patients stranded on the island (the Trump administration's taxpayer-funded private jets are being used for events such as weekend getaways with family members). Nick Kroll and Stephen Colbert got creative and challenged celebrities to share photos of themselves in their awkward teen years. Donations were made for each photo and the #PuberMe challenge ultimately raised $1 million for Puerto Rico.
It's jarring to see a president behave in this manner during a national tragedy, but fortunately many people are eager to lend their support in any way they can.