President Trump on Monday blasted Puerto Rico's Ricardo Rosselló as “a terrible governor” just hours after the leader of the U.S. territory announced he would not seek re-election amid corruption allegations that have led to widespread protests across the island.
The governor, however, is refusing to resign.
“The governor is not good,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “The U.S. gave Puerto Rico $92 billion and it’s in the hands of terrible and corrupt people…You have grossly incompetent leadership.”
Rosselló, a Democrat, made the announcement that he would not run in a Facebook video on Sunday, but added that he was not giving in to demands of protesters to step down from his post. He also said that he agreed with the people's right to protest and was willing to confront the impeachment process, which already has begun in Puerto Rico's legislature.
The embattled governor said while he will not resign as the island's leader, he will step down as head of his pro-statehood party.
Many Puerto Ricans have been calling for Rosselló’s resignation after leaked online chats showed him insulting women and political opponents as well as mocking victims of Hurricane Maria, one of the most devastating natural disasters to hit the island territory.
Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism earlier this month published nearly 900 pages of private messages between Rosselló and several other government officials.
In one message Rosselló called one New York female politician of Puerto Rican descent a “w---e” and described another as a “daughter of a b---h.” One chat also made vulgar references to Latin pop star Ricky Martin’s homosexuality.
His official residence has been under siege in the aftermath as hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered outside La Fortaleza, the governor’s official residence.
A wave of protests hit the island this past Friday, with union workers marching toward La Fortaleza from the nearby waterfront. Horseback riders and hundreds of other people also joined the march.
Amid the outcry, the media-friendly governor has avoided public appearances since July 11, making only four brief appearances, breaking from his usual three or four lengthy news conferences in addition to multiple media appearances.
Fox News’ Talia Kaplan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.