/Trump tweets about Puerto Rico being under siege amid violent protests

Trump tweets about Puerto Rico being under siege amid violent protests

President Donald Trump weighed in for the first time on the protests in Puerto Rico, where thousands have called on Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to resign.

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Trump’s tweets come as the unrest on the island grew more violent Wednesday night, when police fired tear gas on those marching in San Juan.

The president tweeted the people of Puerto Rico “are great” but “much of their leadership is corrupt” — a charge he’s made before.

He noted Rosselló was “under siege” and, as he has before, lambasted San Juan’s mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, saying she “is a despicable and incompetent person who I wouldn’t trust under any circumstance.”

PHOTO: Demonstrators and police face off during a protest against Ricardo Rossello, the governor of Puerto Rico on July 17, 2019, in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Demonstrators and police face off during a protest against Ricardo Rossello, the governor of Puerto Rico on July 17, 2019, in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The mayor has made clear in recent days that she’s on the side of the protesters, and she was also among the targets of the profanity-filled secret Telegram chat group that included the governor and other top officials that helped spark the protests.

In a new statement issued Thursday morning, Rossello acknowledged the widespread protests, saying they “have not gone unnoticed for me, my family and certainly for anyone in Puerto Rico.”

He said he respected the demonstrations “not only as a democratic exercise, but as a natural manifestation of the anger at recent events,” but criticized what he said were the minority of protesters who “chose the wrong methods and violence, even with the use of weapons, Molotov cocktails and other explosives, causing injuries and impacting officers of the Puerto Rico Police.”

PHOTO: A policeman shoots tear gas during clashes in San Juan, Puerto Rico, July 17, 2019. Thousands of people marched to the governors residence in San Juan on Wednesday chanting demands for Gov. Ricardo Rossello to resign.Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo/AP

A policeman shoots tear gas during clashes in San Juan, Puerto Rico, July 17, 2019. Thousands of people marched to the governor’s residence in San Juan on Wednesday chanting demands for Gov. Ricardo Rossello to resign.

“This challenge to law and order will be addressed accordingly,” he said of the violent demonstrators.

“In the past few days I have apologized to the Puerto Rican people and that request remains alive. I have the commitment, stronger than ever, to carry out the public policy for which we have worked so hard in all areas of government. I recognize the challenge before me for recent controversies, but I firmly believe that it is possible to restore confidence and that we can, after this painful and painful process, achieve reconciliation,” he said.

PHOTO: Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello addresses the media at the Fortaleza Government headquarters, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 16 July 2019.Thais Llorca/EFE via Newscom

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello addresses the media at the Fortaleza Government headquarters, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 16 July 2019.

The uproar began Saturday, after the nonprofit journalism group Center of Investigative Journalism published nearly 900 pages of conversations from a leaked group chat between Rosello and several top aides that detail efforts to manipulate public narratives, operations to discredit negative press coverage and criticism of opposition leaders.

The conversations, made through the Telegram app, also contain sexist, homophobic and misogynistic comments from the members of the group, according to the report. These messages have not been independently authenticated by ABC News. After the revelation of the messages, Rossello announced the resignation of a number of government officials including Luis Rivera Marin, the secretary of state.