Former President Donald Trump’s planned visit to the “Ohio Chernobyl” Wednesday sent Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg into damage control as a marathon circuit of corporate media attacks preceded an announcement about his upcoming schedule.
Residents of East Palestine, Ohio and the surrounding area weren’t alone in crying foul after President Joe Biden demonstrated his America Last position with a trip to Ukraine and a commitment of half a billion dollars before addressing the ecological disaster stateside. Buttigieg took 10 days after the train derailment and controlled burn that released hazardous materials into the environment before publicly acknowledging he was even aware of it.
Wednesday, nearly three full weeks after the February 3 disaster and the same day as Trump’s expected arrival to offer his support to the devastated community in part by donating bottled water and cleaning supplies, Politico reported that Buttigieg would be making his way to Ohio on Thursday to visit the crash site.
“The secretary is going now that the EPA has said it is moving out of the emergency response phase and transitioning to the long-term remediation phase,” the source told the outlet, confirming the secretary’s plans.
Ahead of the report, Mayor Pete was suddenly the face of the administration’s response Tuesday, assuring those like MSNBC’s Ali Velshi that he had “followed the norm” and, of course, he would be going there.
“And I will tell you, I am planning to go,” Buttigieg said after American frustration over Biden’s priorities was raised, leaving the secretary to assure, “Our department’s personnel were on the ground from within the first hours of the incident.”
In an obvious effort to detract from Trump’s trip, the cabinet member continued, “And when I’m on the ground, it’s going to be about action. It’s not going to be about show or politics, because I can very much relate to how a mayor feels, having been mayor and noticed that, when we had disasters in our community, there were two kinds of people who showed up, people who were there because they had a specific role to play, job to do, and difference to make and wanted to help, and people who were there because they wanted to look good.”
“This administration has been on the ground from day one, and that support for East Palestine will not go away,” he claimed.
Buttigieg had also claimed to Velshi, “I have followed the norm in the first days of the crash response of staying out of the way of the independent NTSB. The National Transportation Safety Board has the lead on the investigative part,” before contending he would find accountability.
“But we’re now entering the phase where this is becoming a policy conversation. So, in addition to being ready to take enforcement action against Norfolk Southern to the extent that the investigation turns up any violations, it is also time for us to move forward from a policy perspective, make sure that we strengthen accountability, and strengthen rules on rail safety,” he had said.
The haphazard announcement of the Thursday trip only looked worse when, instead of confirming he would be making his trip to Ohio when confronted by the Daily Caller’s Jennie Taer on the street Tuesday night, Buttigieg seemed more concerned about photographing the investigative reporter, an American citizen whom he works for, and said, “I’ll share that when I’m ready.”
I asked Secretary Buttigieg about the crisis in East Palestine and I guess he didn’t like that so he took a pic of me. Im just doing my job, sir. @DailyCaller pic.twitter.com/HjKNgF25FJ
— Jennie Taer (@JennieSTaer) February 22, 2023
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