President Trump said on Tuesday he would accept a request from California for federal relief in the wake of three wildfires that have killed at least 40 people and destroyed thousands of homes, a reversal of his initial decision to turn down the request.
“I’d be very willing to take some action on the state,” he said. “I’ll look at it and I’ll let you know.”
On Sunday, Mr. Trump criticized California’s forest management policies in an early morning tweet.
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” he wrote. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”
Many leaders in California, including Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, fought back against Mr. Trump’s comments on Monday, calling them “outrageous” and “insulting.”
On Tuesday morning, as President Trump was out of town, the White House released a statement on the request from California.
“The President and Vice President recognize the tremendous outpouring of support for the state and the tremendous loss of life,” the statement read. “The President is committed to working with the State of California and will continue to monitor the devastating fires on a daily basis.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer also took aim at Mr. Trump’s earlier comments in a statement on Tuesday.
“As the President lies in bed, it is time to call a spade a spade — he is responsible for the fires raging in California,” Mr. Schumer said. “His indifference, and even worse his attacks on an ally, are damaging our already fragile relationship and shameful.”
Trump’s comments on Monday night about the California fires went largely unnoticed, but on Tuesday morning the White House released a statement defending his remarks.
“The President is making clear that the forest management practices that allowed this disaster to occur must be addressed and Congress must appropriate the resources to respond,” the statement read. “The President wants the people of California to know that he is there for them and has made clear that he will continue to monitor this unfolding disaster.”
Mr. Trump said on Tuesday that he would call Mr. Brown and Ms. Feinstein on Wednesday, along with the governors of Nevada and Arizona, to discuss emergency aid to California.