Psaki: It’s too soon for Trump to go to Texas

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Citizens rush to rescue strangers
01:31 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: Jen Psaki, a CNN political commentator and spring fellow at the Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service, was the White House communications director and State Department spokeswoman during the Obama administration. She also was a consultant for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Follow her: @jrpsaki. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers

Story highlights

President Trump's decision to visit Texas today is surprising, too soon and could affect rescue efforts

The Obama administration waited till active search and rescue was done and into the phase of damage assessment.

CNN  — 

Every helicopter supporting a Trump visit to Texas in response to Hurricane Harvey is a helicopter not picking survivors off rooftops.

As President Donald Trump faces the first crisis of his presidency (one that is not self-inflicted) he fortunately has a chief of staff, John Kelly, who knows how to deal with emergency response, and a well-respected FEMA director in Brock Long leading an agency that has rebuilt itself since 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.

There will be many decisions ahead about resources and funding at the federal level that will have an actual impact on the recovery of Houston and the other affected communities. These will be far more important than the movements of Air Force One, but the President’s decision to travel to Texas just days after the first wave of the storm hit is, at best, surprising.

It is particularly arresting after he credited the expected ratings boost from hurricane coverage with providing the right forum for his Friday night pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. So there is reason to be skeptical about his motivation for the visit.