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Tulsi Gabbard joins protesters in Puerto Rico and urges governor to resign

Governor of Puerto Rico pressured to resign

Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard joined demonstrators in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Friday to protest Gov. Ricardo Rossellò and urge his resignation. Gabbard, a Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii, said in an interview with CBSN that she was there to "stand in solidarity with our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico."

"What people are gathering here for by the thousands is to point out the deep-seated corruption within this government, which is fueling their calls for the governor's resignation," Gabbard said Friday evening. "The people of Puerto Rico don't have a government of, by and for the people. We have to stand with them, calling on the governor to resign, and make sure their voices are heard and their needs are met."

Backlash is intensifying over a profane and derogatory group chat that targeted people critical of Rossellò's administration. And while protesters marched through San Juan on Wednesday, the investigative group that leaked the messages alleged there's a multi-billion dollar corruption scandal behind the chats.

The island's Center for Investigative Journalism, the group which published the leaked conversations on Saturday, released a new report alleging a multi-billion dollar corruption network is behind the group chat, where public funds were used to influence and benefit private clients and the Puerto Rican government. It also claims Rosselló knew -- and did nothing to stop it. Nonetheless, Rosselló insists he has no plans to leave his role.

In the interview with CBSN, Gabbard said that Rossellò "needs to resign."

"He's shown he's got not only a failed leadership, but he's not in this to serve the people of Puerto Rico. He's in this for his own political interests and the people of Puerto Rico deserve better," Gabbard said.

Rossellò has also been criticized by President Trump, most recently in a series of tweets on Thursday. Mr. Trump wrote that Congress "foolishly gave 92 Billion Dollars for hurricane relief" to the island in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017.

"A lot of bad things are happening in Puerto Rico. The Governor is under siege, the Mayor of San Juan is a despicable and incompetent person who I wouldn't trust under any circumstance, and the United States Congress foolishly gave 92 Billion Dollars for hurricane relief," Mr. Trump wrote in one of two tweets, claiming much of the aid was "squandered away or wasted, never to be seen again."

In fact, Puerto Rico has received $11.2 billion in aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies as of April. Mr. Trump's figure is the number estimated by the Office of Management and Budget of how much the island could receive over the next two decades.

Gabbard told CBSN that unlike Mr. Trump, she would ensure that Puerto Ricans were "treated with respect" if she were elected president.

"As president, I'll make sure their voices are heard and make sure those needs are met," Gabbard said. Addressing Puerto Rico's ongoing financial crisis, Gabbard said, "the federal government needs to work with the leadership here to help them them out of the fiscal straits they are facing."

Gabbard will appear onstage at the second Democratic presidential primary debate on July 31 alongside nine other candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris.

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