Fox News’ Shepard Smith pulled no punches Monday during Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s first one-on-one interview since protests erupted against his scandal-plagued administration earlier this month.
In the nearly 20-minute grilling, Smith pressed the governor on his refusal to resign after a handful of government officials were hit with federal corruption charges and hundreds of Rosselló’s online chats were leaked, revealing he mocked Hurricane Maria victims and tossed around misogynistic and homophobic remarks.
“Attacks on women, attacks on gays, attacks on the dead relatives of your own residents across your own island ― after all that, who’s left to support you?” Smith asked. “And is it even safe for you to continue to attempt to govern?”
“I’ve apologized for that. I’m making amends for all those efforts,” Rosselló responded, claiming he was committed to “battling” the very corruption that has thrived under his tenure.
On July 10, the FBI arrested former Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration head Ángela Ávila-Marrero and former Education Secretary Julia Keleher, along with two businessmen and two education contractors. Together, they are accused of funneling $15.5 million in federal dollars to unqualified contractors with political connections.
The same week, Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism released the trove of damning online chats.
″The corruption was in your own administration,” Smith told Rosselló. “And five people who were on those chats, you got rid of all of them. They are now out of the government, but you remain. Doesn’t the buck stop with your office, governor?”
Still, the governor didn’t back down from his plans to remain in office, pointing out that Puerto Ricans elected him, despite the thousands of demonstrators who now want him gone.
“You’re a man on an island by yourself,” Smith said. “How long can you stay there?”
Again, Rosselló argued he needed to stay to fight corruption and “follow through on some of the efforts that I established for the people of Puerto Rico.”
However, questioned repeatedly by Smith to identify a single person who supports him remaining on the job, the governor could come up with just one name ― San Sebastián Mayor Javier Jiménez.
Later on Monday, Jiménez told Fox News that “isn’t true,” denying Rosselló’s claim that he supports the embattled governor.
Rosselló announced Sunday in a Facebook video that he would not seek reelection but intended to finish out his term through 2020.
“I’ve made mistakes, and I apologize,” he said, according to a translation from BuzzFeed. “To every Puerto Rican man and woman, I have heard you and I hear you today.”
This article has been updated to reflect Jiménez’s response to the governor’s statement.