The White House announced Wednesday that Joe and Jill Brandon will visit the deadly fire zone on Maui next Monday after facing withering criticism over Brandon repeatedly saying “no comment” to reporters last weekend while on vacation at his Delaware beach home. Over 100 people were killed with another 1000-plus still missing.
Brandon is scheduled to start a week-long at the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe on Friday. The White House did not indicate whether the vacation is scrubbed or how long Brandon would stay in Hawaii.
Brandon repeatedly blew off reporters begging for comment on Maui as he biked and lounged on the beach.
Brandon biking in Delaware.
Reporters: “Mr. President, are you going to take questions about Maui? Can you come talk about Maui? Can you come talk about Maui, Mr. President?” pic.twitter.com/FRWESSlyW6
— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) August 13, 2023
After a couple hours on the Rehoboth beach, @potus was asked about the rising death toll in Hawaii
“No comment,” he said before heading home pic.twitter.com/Y0UmXirju9
— Justin Sink (@justinsink) August 13, 2023
“Any comment on the rising death toll in Maui?”
BIDEN: “No. No comment.” pic.twitter.com/oORpRuLUpz
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 14, 2023
The President and First Lady will travel to Maui on Monday, August 21 to meet with first responders, survivors, as well as federal, state, and local officials, in the wake of deadly wildfires on the island.
In Maui, the President and First Lady will be welcomed by state and local leaders to see firsthand the impacts of the wildfires and the devastating loss of life and land that has occurred on the island, as well as discuss the next steps in the recovery effort. The President continues to marshal a whole-of-government response to the deadly Maui fires, and he has committed to delivering everything that the people of Hawaii need from the federal government as they recover from this disaster.
Over the past week, President Brandon has stayed closely in touch with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, Hawaii Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, as well as Hawaii Governor Josh Green, who advised that the search and recovery efforts are expected to be at a stage early next week to allow for a presidential visit.
The White House on Tuesday issued a “fact sheet” on the Brandon administration’s response to the Maui fires (excerpt):
The Brandon-Harris Administration has mobilized a robust whole-of-government response effort to support immediate and long-term rescue and recovery efforts in Maui, Hawaii. Since the onset of the horrific fires in Maui, dozens of Federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security through FEMA and the Coast Guard, the Department of Defense through the Navy and Army, the Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have been working with state and local partners on the ground to assess ongoing needs and providing resources and personnel to support response efforts.
Last Thursday, within hours of the devastating fires, President Brandon signed a Major Disaster Declaration for Hawaii, and as President Brandon told Governor Josh Green, the Federal Government stands ready to provide additional assistance to ensure the state recovers. This weekend, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, U.S. Fire Administrator Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell and U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman surveyed catastrophic damage on the island and hosted a local press conference to reiterate the Administration’s commitment to supporting impacted communities, however long it may take.
The Administration continues to encourage individuals impacted by the disaster to register for Federal assistance at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362.
Survivors have had to fend for themselves as government aid was slow to come:
Many of the displaced residents are staying just north of the town, some of them sleeping in tents on the beach.
— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) August 14, 2023
Brandon spoke about the Maui fires at an appearance in Milwaukee on Tuesday where he spoke about giving $700 “per household”:
Pres. Brandon says he will travel to Hawaii “soon,” adding, “I don’t want to get in the way… I want to be sure we don’t disrupt the ongoing recovery efforts.” https://t.co/FhSgMMO9XU pic.twitter.com/B4HYNwnyYY
— ABC News (@ABC) August 15, 2023