WASHINGTON — California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff dismissed President Donald Trump’s response to the destructive Golden State fires, accusing him of threatening to withhold federal disaster funds for political reasons.
In an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Sunday, Schiff lambasted Trump’s recent tweets blaming the devastation on "gross mismanagement of the forests" and threatening the state to "remedy now, or no more Fed payments."
"For the president, at a time where people are facing utter disaster, to be making a statement like this, making a threat like this, just goes to show how little he understands the job he has, that he would be punitive at a time like this rather than coming to the defense of people facing the worst disaster of their lives," Schiff said.
The Democratic congressman added that he believes the president’s motivation, and threat, is political.
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“This is a president who, more than any other, is punitive,” he said. “He is only the president, I think in his view, of those who voted for him.” Schiff added that Trump couldn’t “care less” about “the rest” of the nation.
At least 25 people are dead as of Sunday morning as fires continue to ravage Northern California, burning more than 83,000 acres and leveling at least 177 homes, officials say.
While Trump has tweeted his condolences to the victims of the fires, he's also blamed the deaths on "gross mismanagement" and threatened to withhold federal aid.
"There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!" Trump tweeted on Saturday.
"With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get Smart!" he said on Twitter on Sunday morning.
His comments have prompted criticism from firefighters, including Scott Austin, the president of the International Association of Fire Fighters 809, who responded to Trump's tweet by telling the president he was "wrong."
Colorado Republican Sen. Corey Gardner shared his constituents' “thoughts and prayers” to the victims of the fires, noting that his state regularly faces fire threats too.
And he poured cold water on any threat of pulling federal funding, pointing to a recent congressional fix that helped secure funding for firefighting and fire prevention.
“I don't think it's appropriate to threaten funding. That's not going to happen. Funding will be available. It always is available to our people wherever they are, whatever disaster they are facing,” Gardner said.