White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley defended President Donald Trump’s comments on Puerto Rico’s leaders over disaster response following 2017’s double hurricane slam, but twice called the U.S. territory “that country” before insisting his “slip of the tongue” did not reflect the attitude of the White House.

“The fact is, they have received more money than any state or territory in history for a rebuild,” Gidley told MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson, before she shot back Louisiana had gotten more money for its hurricane response.

“They’re getting $91 billion in pledges to give to that territory,” Gidley told her, after she called attention to a Trump tweet Puerto Rico had gotten $91 billion. “They have had a  systematic mismanagement of the goods and services we’ve sent to them.”

Trump’s tweets came after Senate Democrats stonewalled a massive disaster relief bill from getting to a final floor vote, saying it lacked enough funds for Puerto Rico.

Trump also tweeted Puerto Rico was taking from the United States, but Gidley said questions over whether the president does not consider the island territory’s residents as equal citizens are “absolutely ridiculous.”

The White House has not yet disbursed the money Congress has allocated to help Puerto Rico, Jackson pointed out.

Gidley said “I’m sure we will,” but he did not know when.


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