President Biden will travel to the Hawaiian island of Maui on Monday to view the damage from raging wildfires that devastated much of a coastal town and killed more than 100 people, the White House announced on Wednesday.
Mr. Biden had signaled a day earlier that he would visit “as soon as we can,” and the White House statement formalized the timing. Jill Biden, the first lady, will accompany the president, who will meet with emergency workers, survivors, and federal, state and local officials.
“I remain committed to delivering everything the people of Hawai’i need as they recover from this disaster,” Mr. Biden wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
The announcement came after Republicans criticized the president for not addressing the disaster for several days and distributed images of him relaxing over the weekend in Rehoboth Beach, Del. “Heartless Joe,” read the banner headline of The New York Post on Tuesday, before Mr. Biden said in a speech later in the day in Milwaukee that he wanted to visit but did not want to get in the way of response operations.
Former President Donald J. Trump, whose own response to disasters in Puerto Rico were widely criticized, took a shot at Mr. Biden on Monday. “It is a disgraceful thing that Joe Biden refuses to help or comment on the tragedy in Maui,” Mr. Trump said in a video posted online shortly before he was indicted in Georgia on racketeering and conspiracy charges for trying to overturn the 2020 election results.
White House officials have said that Mr. Biden is paying close attention to the situation in Hawaii and speaking with Gov. Josh Green, Senators Mazie K. Hirono and Brian Schatz, as well as Deanne Criswell, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who is on the ground in Hawaii. FEMA has provided 50,000 meals, 75,000 liters of water, 5,000 cots and 10,000 blankets, according to the White House.
The president’s aides said Governor Green had advised that next week would be a more opportune time for a visit because it would be less disruptive to search and recovery efforts. Mr. Biden plans to be in Lake Tahoe next week for vacation but will break away for the day trip to Maui.
“The president continues to marshal a whole-of-government response to the deadly Maui fires, and he has committed to delivering everything that the people of Hawaii need from the federal government as they recover from this disaster,” the White House said.
Peter Baker is the chief White House correspondent and has covered the last five presidents for The Times and The Washington Post. He is the author of seven books, most recently “The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021,” with Susan Glasser. More about Peter Baker
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