Schiff condemns Trump wildfire remarks as 'punitive' toward 'devastated' state

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., condemned President Trump on Sunday for remarks blaming the devastating wildfires burning at both ends of California on bad "forest management" and threatening to withhold federal payments to the state.

“For the president, at a time when people are facing utter disaster, to be making a statement like this, making a threat like this, this just goes to show how little he understands the job he has,” Schiff, who represents part of Los Angeles County, told NBC's "Meet The Press." “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. He’s out there making these broad and false statements and threatening to remove funding from a state that’s devastated right now.”

Trump posted his remarks on Twitter Saturday while traveling to France for events marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. He claimed that "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!"

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Schiff also disagreed with the president's assessment of the cause of the blaze, saying that “there are a lot of root causes about why the fire season has become so much worse over the years.”

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When asked by host Chuck Todd whether he believed Trump comments stemmed from “a political thing because California’s so blue?” Schiff replied, “I do, I do.”

“This is a president who, more than any other, is punitive,” Schiff said. “Basically, he is only the president, I think in his view, of those who voted for him. The rest he could care less.”

Trump took to Twitter again later in the day, saying “the destruction” from the wildfires “is catastrophic” and urged people to heed authorities' evacuation orders.

At least 25 people have died as a result of the fires and dozens more have been reported missing. At least 23 people have died in Northern California, where the Camp Fire is the third-deadliest on record in the state. The other two confirmed victims were found dead in a long residential driveway in Malibu. Officials said Sunday morning that the fire that hit that region had grown to 130 square miles and was 10 percent contained.

California Gov. Jerry Brown said he is requesting a major-disaster declaration from President Donald Trump that would make victims eligible for crisis counseling, housing and unemployment help, and legal aid.