Puerto Rico's embattled Governor Ricardo Rosselló apologized for his role in a vulgar group chat that included profane, homophobic and sexist comments in questions Tuesday from CBS News' David Begnaud. Rosselló he is trying to "move forward" after his office has been rocked by the high-profile corruption arrests and escalating protests over the chat, which has led to the resignations of several government officials on the chat.
"No, it's not business as usual, I recognize that this is a big hit, and I'm working to remediate it," he said on Tuesday from San Juan. "I don't think it's business as usual, however I do have to operate the business of running government. And that is what I'm doing and that is what I'd like to communicate to the people of Puerto Rico and anybody who's watching."
A political crisis has swept the Caribbean island — home to approximately 3.2 million U.S. citizens — since a non-profit journalism group, Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism, published a trove of messages in which Rosselló and his top lieutenants mocked political opponents, talked about retaliating against journalists and made sexist and homophobic remarks. The scandal prompted the resignation of several officials in the messaging group, including his secretary of state and chief financial officer, and the governor is trying to quell the fallout and save his political career.
When asked by Begnaud if the contents of the leaked messages was illegal, Rosselló said in response that it it was "improper. I recognize it was improper, it was shameful. I'm going to everything I can do in my power to have conversations with groups I have hurt, not only personally but on a group basis, and start a healing process with it."
What asked what it would take for him to resign, Rosselló did not answer the question but instead said "I'm focused on moving forward."
Defying growing calls for his immediate resignation, Rosselló has vowed to remain in office and bring more transparency and accountability to the Puerto Rican government. He called alleged corruption in Puerto Rico's government "an ill" and said he is especially not proud of overseeing a group chat that included threats of violence against San Juan's mayor.
The leaked chat room conversations among Rosselló and 11 others are laced with profane, homophobic and sexist comments, and in one case even a death threat against San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. The governor's chief financial officer, Christian Sobrino, wrote "I'm dying to shoot her up." Rosselló replied "You'd be doing me a big favor."
"I am not proud of what I did," Rosselló told Begnaud. "Those were merely comments, but they were hurtful. I apologize for what I've done, but again I need to move forward and continue on with the work we're doing for Puerto Rico."