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Former FEMA director: 'Trump is doing the right thing' by visiting Texas

  • James Lee Witt headed the Federal Emergency Management Agency under Bill Clinton from 1993 to 2001.
  • Witt praised Trump for signing a disaster declaration last week in advance of Hurricane Harvey's landfall and for planning to visit Texas this week.
  • The former director expressed confidence in FEMA Director William "Brock" Long.

President Bill Clinton's Federal Emergency Management Agency director praised President Donald Trump's response to Hurricane Harvey.

James Lee Witt, who headed the agency from 1993 until 2001, commended Trump for signing a disaster declaration last week to offer federal assistance to Texas. He also applauded Trump for planning on visiting Corpus Christi on Tuesday.

People need to know the federal government will be there while they rebuild, he said. Clinton always visited major disaster sites to reassure people, he said.

"I think President Trump is doing the right thing," Witt told CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Monday. "I would like to suggest he might visit a shelter if he had time to visit with victims. I think that would add a lot of hope to them that are in some of those shelters just to tell them he's there for them and the federal government is. I think that would be a big difference."

Witt expressed confidence in FEMA Director William "Brock" Long, who began his tenure in June. Before joining the agency Long served as executive vice president at Hagerty Consulting, an emergency management consulting firm. Prior to that, he served as director of Alabama's Emergency Management Agency, where he coordinated 14 disaster responses.

"He knows how to do it," Witt said. "He knows how it works. And I think his leadership will help FEMA and the FEMA employees to work together in a way that's going to make a difference in this response."