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Puerto Rico governor on Trump: "If the bully gets close, I'll punch the bully in the mouth"

Puerto Rican statehood bill announced

Escalating his recent criticism of the White House, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló vowed he would not allow his officials to be bullied by the administration and urged President Trump to stop treating Puerto Ricans as "second-class" U.S. citizens. 

In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Rosselló, who has been careful about being openly critical of the president, was asked if he felt working with the president was like "dealing with a bully." 

"If the bully gets close, I'll punch the bully in the mouth," Rosselló responded. "It would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage." 

Rosselló, who was in Washington to advocate for a newly unveiled bill to grant Puerto Rico statehood, has intensified his public condemnation of the president, with whom he has repeatedly clashed over federal assistance to the island. 

Earlier this week, the governor slammed Mr. Trump for opposing further disaster aid to the island and reportedly telling Republican senators he believed the U.S. territory received too many federal relief funds compared to states like Texas and Florida, which have also been battered by storms in the past two years.

This year, Rosselló has also denounced the White House for considering diverting disaster relief funds to finance the president's long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and opposing $600 million in food assistance funding, which the White House called "excessive and unnecessary." 

The president's handling of recovery efforts in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and María, which the island is recovering from, have been strongly criticized by local residents and elected officials, as well as congressional Democrats.