Baldwin returns to ‘SNL’ as confused Trump responding to Puerto Rico

Actor Alec Baldwin resumed his impersonation of President Trump on “Saturday Night Live” this week for the season premiere, appearing in the cold open as a confused Trump responding to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico.

The skit mocked a plethora of current events in the White House, from Trump’s new “Rocket Man” nickname for North Korean leader Kim Jung Un to his recent feud with the NFL.

It also showed Trump speaking with San Juan’s mayor about recovery efforts in Puerto Rico following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.

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“I’m begging you, Puerto Rico needs your help,” an SNL cast member portraying San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz says to Trump over the phone in the skit.

“We’re going to get more help to you immediately, probably by Tuesday or Wednesday by the latest,” Baldwin responds as Trump. “Ma’am I don’t know if you know this, but you’re in an island in the water. The ocean water, big ocean, with fishies and water and turtles that bite. We want to help you, but we’ve got to take care of America first.”

After “SNL’s” Cruz explains that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, Baldwin aggressively hangs up the phone, saying, “That woman was so nasty.”

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Earlier this week, Trump explained that one of the reasons responding to the disaster in Puerto Rico is more difficult in comparison to the hurricane damage in Florida and Texas is that the territory is on an island.

The skit also included Aidy Bryant returning to impersonate press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Kate McKinnon impersonating Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRhode Island announces plan to pay DACA renewal fee for every ‘Dreamer’ in state Mich. Senate candidate opts for House run instead NAACP sues Trump for ending DACA MORE.

–Read more from The Hill:

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Trump lashes out at Puerto Ricans after mayor’s criticism of administration’s relief effort

From the comfort of his New Jersey golf resort, President Trump lashed out Saturday at the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the ravaged island’s residents, defending his administration’s hurricane response by suggesting that Puerto Ricans had not done enough to help themselves.

Trump’s Twitter assault, which began early Saturday and lasted until evening, was set off by criticism from Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who on Friday had criticized the federal response since Hurricane Maria’s Sept. 20 landfall.

“Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help,” Trump tweeted. He added: “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 federal workers now on island doing a fantastic job.”

The president’s comments were a breathtaking and racially inflected swipe at residents who have labored for more than a week to survive without electricity, running water, food or medical supplies. Media reports have shown residents in the city and villages sweltering in line for hours with gas cans, hoping for enough fuel to run generators. Nearly every hospital in Puerto Rico lost power in the hurricane, though many have crept toward a semblance of operation. Thousands of crates of supplies have arrived in Puerto Rico, but their distribution has been slowed by destroyed roads and trucks and a shortage of drivers to deliver the goods around the island.

Derrick Johnson, interim president of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, said Trump’s rhetoric showed “a president who does not appreciate the lives of people of color.”

“This is his Katrina moment,” Johnson said. “He is lacking and has been lacking as a moral leader.”

Republican strategist Steve Schmidt said Trump displayed “a profound incapacity for empathy.”

“Millions of Americans are faced with a humanitarian crisis and he’s at his clubhouse using Twitter to attack local leadership on the island? Really? This is going to cause even more suffering,” Schmidt said. “What the American people are seeing is staggering incompetence.”

In some of his more than 20 tweets on Saturday, the president sought to suggest that any criticism of the federal response was a criticism of the first responders — much as he cast NFL players’ protests as directed against service members and veterans, not police violence. He also alleged that reporters who have been in Puerto Rico documenting the hurricane’s aftermath had diminished the role of U.S. rescuers.

“Because of #FakeNews my people are not getting the credit they deserve for doing a great job. As seen here, they are ALL doing a GREAT JOB!” he said in one tweet. It included a nearly 10-minute video of U.S. forces working on behalf of Puerto Ricans, and laudatory comments from Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello.

“We’ve been working together; we’ve been getting results,” said Rossello, who is affiliated with Democrats. “The president and the administration have done everything that they can, that we’ve asked them to do.”

Times staff writers Decker reported from Washington and Lee from Los Angeles.

Times staff writer Jackie Calmes contributed to this report from Washington.

cathleen.decker@latimes.com

@cathleendecker

kurtis.lee@latimes.com

@kurtisalee

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