Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump is promising the tornado-stricken state of Alabama that FEMA is on the way, while Puerto Rico's governor is fighting to make sure the administration doesn't divert its aid money to building a border wall.

Driving the news: Trump today on Alabama: "FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes."

  • The latest: 23 are dead, and the worst tornado was an EF-4 with a damage path nearly 1 mile wide, the National Weather Service reported today. Dozens are still missing, AP reports.
  • More from the AP: National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Darden "said the 'monster tornado' was the single deadliest twister in the U.S. since May 2013, when an EF-5 killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma."

Why it matters: The president's responses to natural disasters have been criticized for varying based on his relationship with each state's political leaders.

  • In Puerto Rico, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told Axios' Andrew Freedman in late February, after failing to secure a meeting with Trump during a visit to Washington, that his state is fighting to prevent recovery funds from being taken away. "Puerto Rico has always been treated differently, and by differently I mean in an inferior fashion."
  • Flashback: Axios' Jonathan Swan reported in November that Trump didn't want to give Puerto Rico any more federal recovery money, claiming without evidence that the island’s government was using federal disaster relief money to pay off debt.
  • In California, Trump has repeatedly expressed sympathy for fire-affected residents while also threatening FEMA funds unless the state government acts in his favor. He has railed against the state's forestry practices, blaming poor forest management for record and deadly wildfires, thereby ignoring the roles played by climate change and development.

The bottom line: In a future where natural disasters could be more frequent and more intense because of climate change, the politics of natural disasters will just get hotter.

Go deeper

Federal judge blocks DOJ from defending Trump in Carroll rape defamation case

E. Jean Carroll in Warwick, New York. Photo: Eva Deitch for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the Justice Department's attempted intervention on behalf of President Trump in writer E. Jean Carroll's defamation lawsuit against him, after she accused him of raping her in a dressing room in the mid-1990s.

Catch up quick: The agency argued that Trump was "acting within the scope of his office" as president when he said in 2019 that Caroll was "lying" about her claim.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse — The swing states where the pandemic is raging.
  2. Health: The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Where stimulus is needed most.
  4. Education: The dangerous instability of school re-openings.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Unrest in Italy as restrictions grow across Europe.
  7. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine.

Pre-bunking rises ahead of the 2020 election

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Tech platforms are no longer satisfied with debunking falsehoods — now they're starting to invest in efforts that preemptively show users accurate information to help them counter falsehoods later on.

Why it matters: Experts argue that pre-bunking can be a more effective strategy for combative misinformation than fact-checking. It's also a less polarizing way to address misinformation than trying to apply judgements to posts after they've been shared.