Donald Trump defiantly insisted in a Thursday morning tweet that Hurricane Maria only caused 6 to 18 deaths in Puerto Rico, despite a recent report commissioned by the island's government that put the toll at nearly 3,000.
In the president's mind, factors like old age inflated the astronomical death count as part of Democrats' efforts to "make [him] look as bad as possible.”
“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico,” Trump said on Twitter. “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…”
“.....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 said in a tweet, referencing the newer death toll.
In the report released on Aug. 28, researchers at George Washington University found that Hurricane Maria, the Category 4 storm that bowled through Puerto Rico in September 2017, caused 2,975 deaths. The report took into account what happened in the hurricane’s devastating wake, amid downed power lines across the island, lack of access to food and clean water, and compromised healthcare facilities. Originally, the government had estimated that as few as 64 people died as a result of catastrophe across the island.
In the aftermath of Maria, hundreds of schools closed in Puerto Rico — and some remain that way. And thousands of people ended up fleeing to the mainland U.S. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) even said in a recent report that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stumbled badly in its recovery efforts because emergency responders were unprepared to operate in a complete blackout on the island.
Earlier this week, however, Trump praised his administration’s hurricane response there as an “incredible unsung success.”
The mayor of San Juan, who has repeatedly attacked Trump for his response to the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico, also took to Twitter with some choice words for the president.
Meanwhile, another monstrous hurricane, Florence, is currently heading toward the Carolinas' shores. For that, Trump tweeted, the government is “completely ready.”
Cover image: In this Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017 photo, President Donald Trump tosses paper towels into a crowd at Calvary Chapel in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)