Former President Trump accused the Biden administration on Wednesday of “indifference and betrayal” in its response to a train derailment that spilled toxic chemicals in an Ohio town.
Speaking in East Palestine, Ohio, where the disaster occurred, Trump blasted President Biden and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), saying that the president and his administration dragged their feet on providing crucial aide in the face of an environmental disaster and its effects on the community.
“Unfortunately, as you know, in too many cases your goodness and perseverance were met with indifference and betrayal in some cases,” Trump said. “And Biden and FEMA said they would not send aid to East Palestine under any circumstance.”
“When I announced that I was coming, they changed their tune. It was an amazing phenomenon,” he continued, later adding that he “opened up the dam and we got them to move.”
Trump, who is running for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination, was joined by two other top Republicans, Sen. J.D. Vance (Ohio) and Rep. Bill Johnson (Ohio). Ahead of his remarks, he helped deliver water and supplies to residents of East Palestine.
The former president’s trip to Ohio carried deep political undertones. A longtime swing state, Ohio has lurched to the right in recent years, delivering its electoral votes to Trump in the last two presidential elections. His visit also comes as Biden returns to the U.S. after a swing through Ukraine and Poland.
Biden’s Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will travel to East Palestine on Thursday, where he’s expected to meet with community members and receive an update on the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the derailment.
While Biden and his administration have come under fire for not traveling there sooner, the disaster has also put a spotlight on Trump’s own regulatory and environmental policies.
On Wednesday, the White House pointed to past efforts by Republicans — including Trump — to loosen regulations on railway safety and curb the federal government’s ability to respond to chemical spills.
“Congressional Republicans laid the groundwork for the Trump Administration to tear up requirements for more effective train brakes, and last year most House Republicans wanted to defund our ability to protect drinking water,” deputy White House press secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement.