The Latest: PRico Senate leader lambastes departing governor

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Proposed Secretary of State Pedro Pierluisi, right, is greeted by lawmakers Luis Ortiz and Jose Aponte during a break in his confirmation hearing at the House of Representatives, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Friday, August 2, 2019. As Gov. Ricardo Rossello is expected to leave office in a few hours, the Puerto Rican House of Representatives is expected to vote on Pierluisi’s confirmation Friday afternoon. If he is rejected, Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez automatically becomes governor as the next in the order of succession, even though she has said she would unwillingly accept the job. (AP Photo/Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The latest on Puerto Rico’s political crisis (all times local):

5:50 p.m.

The president of Puerto Rico’s Senate has criticized departing Gov. Ricardo Rosselló for naming former congressional representative Pedro Pierluisi as the next governor and seems to be hinting that he will fight the succession plan.

Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz is a member of Rosselló’s own party but is also seen as a possible future governor.

Schatz says Rosselló “did not respect the demands of the people” and “in fact, he mocked them,” referring to leaked chats in which the governor made disparaging remarks about many Puerto Ricans. The leak touched off widespread street protests that drove Rosselló to announce he would resign as of Friday.

The Senate leader said that order and morals will prevail and “no one should lose faith.”

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4:10 p.m.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló says he is resigning and swearing in veteran politician Pedro Pierluisi as his replacement.

In an emailed announcement from his office, Rosselló says Pierluisi does not need confirmation from both houses of the territory’s legislature because he was named secretary of state, the next in line to be governor, in a recess appointment this week.

The statement says Pierluisi will be sworn in to complete Rosselló’s term, but it does not say exactly when. Rosselló had promised to resign at 5 p.m. Friday, a few minutes before the statement was sent.

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3:55 p.m.

Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives has voted to confirm Pedro Pierluisi as secretary of state, removing an important obstacle to him becoming governor in about an hour.

The House, which is controlled by Pierluisi’s New Progressive Party, voted 26-21, with one abstention, to confirm Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s nominee and potential successor.

The House erupted into cheers when the deciding vote was cast.

But Pierluisi’s fate remains unclear.

The secretary of state is next to line for the governor’s chair when the chief executive resigns. But the issue of who is rightfully governor is almost certain to go to court. Some believe that because the legislature wasn’t in session when Pierluisi was appointed, he’s already secretary of state unless the legislature rejects him.

Others argue that he still needs to be confirmed — some say just by the House of Representatives. Others say the Senate has to approve him too.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is due to step down at 5 p.m., a resignation he promised in response to weeks of popular protest over mismanagement, and a series of leaked chats in which he and advisers denigrate a range of Puerto Ricans.

If Pierluisi does not become governor, the position is taken by Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez, who is not widely popular and already is the target of protests.

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3:45 p.m.

A commission of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives has recommended confirming Pedro Pierluisi as secretary of state, removing one obstacle to him becoming governor in just over an hour.

That sends Pierluisi’s nomination to a full vote of the House. But even if the House approves him, his fate remains unclear.

The secretary of state is next to line for the governor’s chair if the chief executive resigns. But the issue of who is rightfully governor is almost certain to go to court. Some believe that because the legislature wasn’t in session when Pierluisi was appointed, he’s already secretary of state unless the legislature rejects him.

Others argue that he still needs to be confirmed — some say just by the House of Representatives. Others say the Senate has to approve him too.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is due to step down at 5 p.m., a resignation he promised in response to weeks of popular protest over mismanagement, and a series of leaked chats in which he and advisers denigrate a range of Puerto Ricans.

If Pierluisi does not become governor, the position is taken by Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez, who is not widely popular and already is the target of protests.

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9:40 a.m.

Legislators in Puerto Rico are grilling the man who might become the next governor of a U.S. territory mired in political turmoil.

Former congressional representative Pedro Pierluisi sat alone as he faced more than two dozen legislators in the first of two public hearings being held Friday just hours before Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is scheduled to resign.

The room was packed with current and former government officials Friday, while Puerto Ricans across the island remain unclear who might be their next leader.

Members of a House committee met with Pierluisi first, and then the House of Representatives is scheduled to debate the nomination before a vote.

Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez could become governor if Pierluisi is not approved.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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