FEMA administrator Brock Long said he was never asked to resign before Hurricane Florence, as he avoided answering questions about the number of fatalities in Puerto Rico in the wake of last year's storm and said it is difficult to know what it is. Exactly and what not. & # 39;
Long, responding to a Wall Street Journal report on Friday, said Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, never asked him to resign over allegations that he misused the agency's resources.
"Secretary Nielsen has never asked me to resign, we have a very functional and professional relationship, we talk every day," Long said Sunday on the NBC show "Meet the Press."
FEMA administrator Brock Long, in response to a Wall Street Journal report, said DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen never asked him to resign after allegations he misused the agency's resources.
President Donald Trump, Administrator of FEMA Brock Long Administrator and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, inform the President about Hurricane Florence in the Oval Office last week
Trump has praised FEMA's response to Hurricane Florence
Long appeared on three Sunday programs to provide updates on Hurricane Florence, which has degraded to a tropical depression.
But the administrator also received questions about President Donald Trump's argument about the death toll in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island last year.
A study by George Washington University showed a death toll of 2,975, a number the president has discussed, arguing that the 65 original deaths reported are accurate.
Long declined to give an exact figure and said "it's hard to say what is accurate."
"There are many studies out there," he said in "Fox News Sunday." "There are many problems with numbers everywhere, it is difficult to say what is accurate and what is not."
He added: & # 39; We have all the support of the president behind us. Understands how complex it is and is frustrated by that & # 39;
Long argues the studies that concluded that the percentages of deaths were made differently.
"Those studies, the Harvard study was done differently than the George Washington study, or this study or that study, and the numbers are everywhere," he said in "Meet the Press."
He went on to say that George Washington's study, which concluded the 2,975 figure, took place six months after the storm and could have included people who died of heart attacks and spousal abuse.
"You may see more deaths that occur indirectly as time passes because people have heart attacks due to stress, they fall out of their house trying to fix their roof, they die in car accidents because they passed an intersection where the traffic lights do not They know that there is something else that happens, there are all kinds of studies on this that we take a look at, marital abuse is spread over the roof, you can not blame spousal abuse, you know, after a disaster with someone, He said.
Trump has repeatedly discussed death, doubling his argument that it was not as high as the number of almost 3,000.
"I think he's on the defensive because he knows how hard these guys behind me work day after day for a very complex situation, and it's frustrating," Long said.
The president praised FEMA's response to Hurricane Florence on Sunday, saying the agency, the first responders and the security forces "are working very hard."
FEMA, the first responders and the police are working very hard on Hurricane Florence. As the storm begins to recede, they will begin to function with greater speed. Very professional! ", He tweeted on Sunday.
Long also argued that Trump was taken out of context when he said there were no lessons to learn from Puerto Rico, which had been without power since 11 months after the storm.
"I think the president is being taken out of context there," Long said on NBC.
& # 39; The response and disaster recovery is, it is a joint effort of community team. You have to have someone from the neighbor who helps the neighbor, like the Cajun Navy, until the response of the federal government, "he added.
Long is the subject of an internal investigation investigating his trip between Washington D.C. and his home in Hickory, North Carolina, the Journal reported.
That investigation included monitoring the head of the agency as he was driven 400 miles each way as part of his trip. According to reports, investigators found that Long left the agency's headquarters in D.C. on Thursdays and traveled home with a caravan of federal workers, who stayed at nearby hotels for the long weekend.
The White House began discussing possible replacements for him, a senior White House official told the newspaper.
But Long said his work is "incredibly complex."
"You do not want to trade jobs with me," he told "Meet the Press" presenter Chuck Todd.
Long also evaded questions about the number of deaths in Puerto Rico after Maria. "There are a lot of problems with numbers everywhere, it's hard to say what is accurate and what is not," he said.
According to reports, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen asked Brock Long to resign if the allegations against him are true.
President Trump, left, and Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, listen to a briefing on Hurricane Florence by Long, downtown, a few days before the storm made landfall last week.
"These vehicles are designed to provide secure communications," he said of his trip. & # 39; It worked for me in the same way that it runs for anyone else. And you know, I understand that maybe some policies were not developed around these vehicles that we are going to clarify and move forward.
Long also said he has no plans to resign: No. No, no, no, I'm here to serve my country every day. That's all I do. & # 39;
The Journal reported that Nielsen encouraged Long to resign if the allegations of mismanagement are true.
The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency told CBS & # 39; Face the Nation & # 39; & # 39; who was cooperating with the inspector general's office, which is conducting the investigation.
"He never intentionally violated any rule," he said.
Hurricane Florence has made its way over southern and northern Carolina, shedding heavy rains and causing flooding.
Local media has counted 13 deaths since Florence made landfall on Friday as a Category 1 hurricane.
Long said the damage from the storm will be "ugly, but we'll get over it."