President Donald Trump announced Thursday afternoon that he is canceling his trip to Poland to deal with Hurricane Dorian, sending Vice President Mike Pence in his place.
“To ensure that all resources of the federal government are focused on the arriving storm, I have decided to send our Vice President Mike Pence to Poland this weekend in my place,” Trump said. “It’s something very important for me to be here. This storm looks like it could be a very, very big one indeed.”
Trump called Polish officials shortly before coming out to the Rose Garden to announce he would no longer be traveling there this weekend, because he needed to monitor the hurricane, a White House official said.
The news comes ahead of Hurricane Dorian’s landfall in Florida. The storm is expected to reach Florida as a Category 4 storm on Labor Day.
Because it’s four days out, the range of potential landfall spots is vast – from the Florida Keys to southeast Georgia. And the center may pause at sea shortly before landfall – leaving its outer bands to drench much of Florida with lots of rain.
Trump, in the Rose Garden on Thursday, said he spoke with Polish President Andrzej Duda and offered his warmest wishes.
His trip – slated to mark the 80th anniversary of the beginning of World War II – will be rescheduled, he said.
The news came during a White House Rose Garden event about the US Space Command.
Trump had already postponed the other leg of his European trip, to Copenhagen, after Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called his interest in buying Greenland “absurd.”
Dorian was previously projected to heavily impact the US territory of Puerto Rico, where residents are still recovering from Hurricane Maria, which killed about 3,000 people. But the island was largely spared, hitting the British and Virgin Islands instead.
As Puerto Rican residents were preparing for the potential hurricane impact earlier this week, the President criticized the territory’s government and praised himself.
“Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth. Their political system is broken and their politicians are either Incompetent or Corrupt. Congress approved Billions of Dollars last time, more than anyplace else has ever gotten, and it is sent to Crooked Pols. No good!” he wrote, adding: “And by the way, I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to Puerto Rico!”
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Betsy Klein, Jason Hanna, Madeline Holcombe and Paul P. Murphy contributed to this report.