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Trump brags about bringing ‘Trump water’ to families affected by Ohio train derailment

Former president makes show of aiding Ohio residents while Biden tours Ukraine, Poland

John Bowden
Washington DC
Thursday 23 February 2023 09:54 GMT
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Trump accuses government of 'indifference' and 'betrayal' toward Ohio community

Donald Trump traveled to East Palestine, Ohio, on Wednesday where he bragged about bringing clean “Trump water” to families whose lives were upended by a massive train derailment earlier this month.

The ex-president was flanked by local officials as he noted that he was “bringing water, Trump water, actually, most of it”, to families in the region. It couldn’t immediately be verified what percentage of the bottles donated by the president were branded with his own name.

“Some of it, we had to go to a much lesser quality water,” quipped the former president.

It was a scene that played out as a perfect headache for the Biden White House, as the ex-president’s visit occurred just hours before Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was set to visit the region and therefore allowed Mr Trump to claim the mantle of first to the scene.

President Joe Biden was in Europe this week for a surprise visit to Ukraine that was celebrated by Kyiv’s advocates in Washington but denounced by far-right Republicans like Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Mr Trump was asked for his message to Mr Biden by one reporter; the former president responded, “Get over here.”

Videos of the ex-president’s arrival showed pallets of drinking water being unloaded by volunteers. The Independent has reached out for a full estimate of the entirety of Mr Trump’s essential goods donation.

The tenor of his visit was markedly different from the scene that unfolded in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria; Mr Trump visited the city during his presidency but was ridiculed afterwards when video emerged of him tossing individual rolls of paper towels to people like a game.

His effort comes shortly after the EPA announced that rail operator Norfolk Southern would foot the bill to clean up any hazardous chemicals, including vinyl chloride, spilled in the derailment. Those chemicals are being blamed for a flurry of negative health effects being reported around the region of the crash, including dead animals and potentially contaminated drinking water.

The Biden administration’s response so far has largely been limited to promises to hold railroad executives accountable for the crash, and denunciations of Republicans and the Trump administration for rolling back Obama-era safety regulations affecting freight rail travel which were already weakened by the industry’s lobbyists before they ever took effect.

"If he wants to visit, he's a citizen. But clearly his regulations and the elimination of them, and no emphasis on safety, is going to be pointed out," former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said of Mr Trump’s visit this week.

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