Pete Buttigieg Takes Down Trump For Ripping East Palestine Visit
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called out former President Donald Trump and his supporters for a “bullshit” suggestion that they influenced his own visit to the site of last month’s toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
Buttigieg, who has been targeted by right-wing fury for not immediately visiting the disaster site, told CNN that Trump’s appearance handing out bottled water didn’t influence his decision to go to the community himself.
“We were already going to go,” Buttigieg said.
The transportation secretary, who visited the community 20 days after the derailment and one day after Trump, also took aim at the former president’s promotion of Trump-branded water.
It was “somewhat maddening to see someone who did a lot trying to gut not just rail safety regulations, but the EPA, which is the number one thing standing between that community and a total loss of accountability for Norfolk Southern, and then show up giving out bottled water and campaign swag?” he remarked.
Buttigieg also pushed back on conservative criticism of his footwear during the visit.
“Who cares what shoes I was wearing, when I was there to draw attention to an agenda that will save lives on our railroads?” the transportation secretary said.
House Republicans have accused Buttigieg of responding too slowly to the derailment.
Buttigieg, however, told CNN it seemed hypocritical to see the former president as well as Fox News hosts pretend to “genuinely care about the forgotten middle of the country.”
He acknowledged he should’ve visited Ohio sooner and failed to foresee the “political fallout” of the disaster.
“Sometimes people need policy work, and sometimes people need performative work,” he said. “And to get to this level, you’ve got to be ready to serve up both.”
He continued: “I could get technical readouts, information about the response.”
“But I think it was important to hear and see how the community was responding, what they were worried about it just a different way that you can sense on paper.”