Donald Trump

Rubio: Trump admin response to Cuba “weak, unacceptable, and outrageous”

First he criticized President Donald Trump’s administration for a lackluster response to the “humanitarian crisis” developing in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

Now, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio lambasted Trump’s state department for its handling of attacks on American diplomats in Cuba.

The U.S. Department of State announced Friday it is yanking more than half its staff from the American embassy in Havana, following mysterious attacks affecting nearly two-dozen staffers.

In a statement released Friday, Rubio blasted the Trump administration as “weak, unacceptable and outrageous” for not tossing Cuban diplomats out of the U.S.

Here’s Rubio’s full statement:

“In light of these harmful attacks against American diplomatic personnel in Cuba, it is weak, unacceptable and outrageous for the U.S. State Department to allow Raul Castro to keep as many of his operatives in the U.S. as he wants. The Cuban government has failed its obligation under international treaties to keep foreign diplomats safe on its soil. The idea that Cuba knows nothing about how these attacks took place and who perpetrated them is absurd. The State Department must conduct its own investigation independent of the Castro regime and submit a comprehensive report to Congress. Until those responsible for these attacks are brought to justice, the U.S. should immediately expel an equal number of Cuban operatives, downgrade the U.S. embassy in Havana to an interests section, and consider relisting Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, also released a statement, calling the attacks on the American embassy personnel “inexcusable.”

Here’s what Nelson had to say:

“The fact that the Cuban government isn’t protecting the health and wellbeing of our U.S. Embassy personnel is inexcusable. With the loss of hearing and stroke-like-symptoms, the Cuban government owes an explanation and reparations to the families of those injured and must work to ensure these attacks cease immediately. In the meantime, the Cuban Embassy’s staff in Washington, D.C. should be reduced by the same proportionate number of U.S. personnel recalled.”

Dems ask Scott for relief centers to aid in expected Puerto Rican migration

As conditions continue to deteriorate in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, Florida Democratic legislators are calling on Gov. Rick Scott to set up relief centers for Puerto Rican evacuees.

Friday’s ask comes as Scott, who traveled to the island yesterday, meets with President Donald Trump in Washington to give him an update of what’s going on in Puerto Rico and the Sunshine State, still recovering from Hurricane Irma.

The situation in Puerto Rico is growing dire, the Democrats wrote in a letter to Scott.

“Now more than a week removed from Maria’s landfall, nearly 3.4 million Puerto Ricans remain without power, the telecommunications grid for the island is in tatters, citizens are running low on cash due to the lack of functioning ATMs necessary to purchase supplies and are faced with an inability to process debit transactions, and large areas outside urban centers remain inaccessible as roads continue to be blocked by fallen debris or are washed away completely,” incoming Senate Minority Leader Jeff Clemens, House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, and a handful of House and Senate members wrote to Scott.

The disaster could result in “hundreds of thousands” of evacuees fleeing to Florida, home to more than 1 million Puerto Ricans already, the Democrats wrote.

“To prepare for this influx of hundreds of thousands new Floridians, we believe it is vital that the state respond proactively to ease their transition and reduce the mental and financial strain this process is sure to inflict on many families,” they wrote.

The “relief centers” could provide”one-stop access to local, state, and federal officials who could offer guidance on housing aid and availability and other services, the Democrats suggested.

The request for the relief centers comes a day after Florida U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio called for the “cavalry” — in the form of the U.S. military — to come to the rescue in Puerto Rico.

 

Nelson asks feds to extend emergency housing for Irma victims

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson wants President Donald Trump’s administration to extend short-term housing benefits for residents displaced by Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in the Keys and Southwest Florida before wreaking havoc across the state.

Nelson, a Democrat who may be facing a re-election challenge from Gov. Rick Scott next year, asked FEMA Administrator Brock Long to extend the Transitional Assistance Program (TSA), which pays for housing such as hotel rooms.

The housing aid is “critical for individuals rebuilding their lives,” Nelson wrote in a letter to Long today.

Some of the housing benefits are set to expire as early as this weekend, according to Nelson.

“After living through one of the most powerful storms to make landfall in this country, it is cruel to make Floridians fret over having to abandon their living situation for the second time, all because of a short-term deadline set by the government. I urge you to extend the assistance period and provide additional relief to those recovering from the storm,” Nelson wrote.

 

Bondi, other AGs target drug industry in opioid probe

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and other attorneys general are targeting drug manufacturers and distributors as well as the insurance industry, in an effort to address the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the country, with 52,404 fatal overdoses reported in 2015, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Opioid addiction drove the epidemic with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers and 12,990 deaths related to heroin.

Florida, where overdose deaths have spiked over the past two years, is one of the epicenters of the opioid crisis, fueled in part by the widespread use of fentanyl, a deadly painkiller sometimes mixed with heroin.

Bondi and a group of attorneys general are demanding documents and information from pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors related to their opioid business.

The information requests are part of an effort by 41 states to crack down on the opioid crisis.

Bondi, who was appointed by President Donald Trump to serve on the White House’s Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission, has made prescription drug abuse one of her top priorities since she took office in 2011.

“Florida citizens continue to become addicted to opioids and die daily—meanwhile, prescription drug manufacturers, distributors and the medical profession all point fingers at each other as the cause of this national crisis,” Bondi said in a press release issued Tuesday. “This far-reaching multistate investigation is designed to get the answers we need as quickly as possible. The industry must do the right thing. If they do not, we are prepared to litigate.”

On Monday, Bondi joined a separate group of attorneys general who want insurers to make it easier for patients to receive alternative pain management treatments.

In Their Own Words: Trump in Ft. Myers praises media for Irma coverage

IMG_0578 In Florida to tour damage from Hurricane Irma President Donald Trump spoke at an airport hangar in Fort Myers before he and First Lady Melania Trump headed to Naples to hand out hoagies to hurricane survivors.

In Fort Myers, Trump gave a bunch of thank–yous to FEMA, the Coast Guard, first responders — the list went on and on.

Trump also heaped praise on Florida Power & Light President and CEO Eric Silagy, who was part of the president’s posse.

“I must say, Florida Power & Light — where’s Eric?  Eric.  Where’s Eric?  Eric, great job,” Trump said, eliciting applause.

“I will say they’re way ahead of schedule.  There are more electrical people in this state, I think, than ever accumulated anywhere in the world is what I read before.  It’s from all over the country they came and I’ve never seen — you’ve never seen anything – ” Trump said before being interrupted from an audience member who may have a different view of the state’s largest utility.

“No, we haven’t,” he said.

Trump, who’s had a rocky relationship with the media, also had some kind words for the press.

“Media, we appreciate you being so understanding.  It’s been a very tough period of time even for you folks, and we really do appreciate your understanding.  This has been a difficult situation,” he said.

Read the full transcript after the jump.

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Hopefully we’re not next: Trump’s $1 million Harvey donation

While Hurricane Irma barrels toward Florida, the White House revealed how President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, are spending $1 million in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

The first couple are spreading the love between a dozen organizations, including the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the ASPCA.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Reach out America – $100,000
  • Red Cross – $300,000
  • Salvation Army – $300,000
  • Samaritan’s Purse – $100,000
  • ASPCA – $25,000
  • Catholic Charities – $25,000
  • Direct Relief – $25,000
  • Habitat for Humanity – $25,000
  • Houston Humane Society – $25,000
  • Operation Blessing – $25,000
  • Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies – $25,000
  • Team Rubicon – $25,000

And here’s the full statement from the White House about the Trumps’ contributions:

President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump announced today a personal donation of $1 million dollars to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts and have designated twelve organizations to receive contributions.  The President and First Lady witnessed the work of some of these groups first hand while visiting with hurricane survivors, first responders, volunteers, and Federal, State, and local officials, and are proud to further assist the recovery efforts in Texas.  Several of the following organizations were recommended, at the invitation of the President, by members of the White House Press Corps, and he would like to thank those who made recommendations for their attention to this important cause.  The President and First Lady continue to pray for the people of Texas and Louisiana.

Latvala defends Dreamers: “We must lead with a compassionate heart”

State Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who is running for governor, weighed in today on President Donald Trump’s decision regarding “dreamers,” the children of undocumented immigrants whose parents brought them into the country.

Trump is reportedly going to announce tomorrow that he intends to put an end to DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy established by former President Barack Obama.

Latvala, a moderate, is in a GOP primary match-up against Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who’s been leaning more and more to the right after he jumped into the governor’s race.

Latvala has long been an advocate for children of undocumented immigrants. In 2014, he sponsored legislation that approved giving in-state tuition to Dreamers. Gov. Rick Scott, who last week said he does “not favor signed punishing children for the actions of their parents,” signed the measure into law.

In a Facebook post today, Latvala said lawmakers “must lead with a compassionate heart.” The statement comes in a state where Hispanic voters play a critical role not only in primaries, but in the general election.

“We must lead with a compassionate heart, not by punishing children. Florida is a diverse state and our economic success depends on a strong diverse workforce. If DACA ends in 6 months it will have a disastrous impact not only on hundreds of thousands of bright, promising young people but also on our business climate.

Congress has dropped the ball on this issue like so many others. It’s time for Congress to pass a law protecting Dreamers. I call on other leaders of the Republican Party in Florida to join me in supporting these children so they can come out of the shadows and legally secure jobs.”