President Donald Trump on Thursday disputed the revised death toll resulting from Hurricane Maria being nearly 3,000 people, contending the number was inflated by Democrats to make him look bad.
Trump tweeted: “3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000.”
3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2018
He added, “This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!”
Trump’s tweets came two days after his assessment that the federal response to the Category 4 storm was an “unsung success.”
“Probably the hardest one we had by far was Puerto Rico because of the island nature,” the president said in the White House on Tuesday. “I actually think it was one of the best jobs that’s ever been done with what respect to what this is all about.”
“Puerto Rico did not get hit with one hurricane, but with two,” Trump said. “And the problem with Puerto Rico is their electric grid, their electric generating plant was dead before the storms ever hit. It was in very bad shape…The job that FEMA and law enforcement and everybody did working along with the governor I think was tremendous.
“I think the Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success.”
"I actually think it was one of the best jobs," President Trump says of his administration's hurricane response in Puerto Rico, calling it an "incredible unsung success."
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 11, 2018
According to a study conducted by George Washington University that was released late last month, “there were 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria between September 2017 and February.”
That figure, according to researchers, represented a 22 percent increase in mortality than what would have been expected absent the storm’s impact.
Prior to release of the study, Puerto Rico listed its official death total from Maria as 64, according to ABC News.
Trump received strong criticism, particularly from liberal politicians, including San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, a member of the island’s Popular Democratic Party, as well as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat.
“This is what denial following neglect looks like: Mr Pres in the real world people died on your watch. YOUR LACK OF RESPECT IS APPALLING!” Cruz wrote in one of a series of tweets targeting Trump.
Simply put: delusional, paranoid, and unhinged from any sense of reality. Trump is so vain he thinks this is about him. NO IT IS NOT. pic.twitter.com/K96H5O3NKM
— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) September 13, 2018
Pelosi tweeted that Trump prefers “alternative facts” and chastised Republican members of Congress who she said are “determined to shield his insulting behavior from accountability.”
.@realDonaldTrump prefers his “alternative facts” to the tragedy faced by families of the lost. Worse still, the GOP is determined to shield his insulting behavior from accountability. It’s time for Republicans in Congress to get back to performing our crucial oversight function. https://t.co/f2j2pEfQYa
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) September 13, 2018
The minority leader was also a very vocal critic of former President George W. Bush in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The recovery effort from the massive storm was hindered by the administration’s difficulty coordinating with then Democratic Mayor Ray Nagin and Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco, The Washington Post reported in December of 2005.
At the time, Pelosi described Bush as, “Oblivious. In denial, Dangerous,” The New York Times reported.
The federal response to Hurricane Katrina, with the accompanying avalanche of negative coverage, contributed to Bush’s low approval numbers and, arguably, the Democrat take over of the House the following year.
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