Trump slams Biden administration at East Palestine train derailment visit

Former President Donald Trump gives remarks at the East Palestine Fire Department station on Feb. 22, in East Palestine, Ohio. Photo: Michael Swensen/Getty Images

Former President Trump took aim at President Biden during his visit to East Palestine, Ohio, on Wednesday in the aftermath of a toxic freight train derailment earlier this month.

The big picture: Trump, who is ramping up his 2024 presidential bid, used his visit to draw attention to the Biden administration's response to the train derailment.

  • Local officials and conservatives have criticized Biden's planned visit to Ukraine instead of East Palestine this week.
  • "I sincerely hope that when your representatives and all of the politicians get here, including Biden, they get back from touring Ukraine, that he's got some money leftover," Trump said in East Palestine on Wednesday.

Catch up quick: A Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous materials derailed on Feb. 3, forcing hundreds of residents of East Palestine to evacuate and raising questions of potential health and environmental risks.

  • Many of the residents have returned to their homes, but some who have returned have complained of smells, headaches, nausea and other ailments, the Washington Post reports.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency has said it has not detected any "levels of concern" of hazardous substances released during or after the crash.

What he's saying: "What this community needs now are not excuses and all of the other things you've been hearing, but answers and results," Trump said, adding that he brought bottled water and supplies to East Palestine.

State of play: Trump himself repealed multiple Obama-era Department of Transportation safety rules meant to improve rail safety, including one that required high-hazard cargo trains to have electronically controlled pneumatic brake technology by 2023, per PolitiFact.

  • Had the Obama-era rule been in place, it still would not have applied to the Norfolk Southern train that derailed as it was not classified as a high-hazard cargo train.

The backdrop: Lawmakers are pushing for answers about government oversight of the freight train system.

  • The White House has vowed to hold Norfolk Southern accountable.
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is urging the rail industry to improve safety measures after the derailment. Buttigieg also said that he will visit East Palestine "when the time is right," CNN reports.

Go deeper… EPA orders Norfolk Southern to clean up Ohio train derailment site

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