(FOX NEWS) - Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., pushed back against President Trump’s threat to block federal aid to California as wildfires continue to ravage large swaths of the state, arguing that the president’s tweet sent the wrong message.
Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Graham – who is one of Trump’s closest confidants in the Senate – assured California that it would receive financial assistance to help deal with a number of wildfires currently burning in the state. The longtime South Carolina lawmaker, however, defended Trump’s comment that the fires in California were caused by poor forest management.
“California will receive the money they need, but going forward we need to look at some of the underlying causes of these fires, and it’s just not California,” Graham said. “We need to look at better forest management in terms of federal lands all over the country.”
Graham added: “This has been a debate for a while about under brush clearing in federally owned lands, but now is not the time to talk about cutting off funding with all due respect…We’re going to help our friends in California. They need help.”
Trump on Saturday took to Twitter to criticize California for its “gross mismanagement” of forests and threatened to cut off federal funding if the issue wasn’t resolved.
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump tweeted. “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!”
There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. 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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2018
The president’s tweet drew a sharp rebuke from California lawmakers and firefighters in the state working to contain wildfires.
"The president’s message attacking California and threatening to withhold aid to the victims of the cataclysmic fires is ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines,” California Professional Firefighters President Brian Rice said in a statement, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Other firefighters took to social media to express their anger.
“Mr. President, with all due respect, you are wrong. The fires in So. Cal are urban interface fires and have NOTHING to do with forest management. Come to SoCal and learn the facts & help the victims,” the Pasadena Firefighters Association said on Twitter.
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