Trump Denies Death Toll In Puerto Rico, Falsely Claims ‘Done By The Democrats’
Updated at 11:04 a.m. ET
President Trump denied the death toll of nearly 3,000 from Hurricanes Maria and Irma, which swept across Puerto Rico a year ago, in a series of tweets Thursday morning.
“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico,” he tweeted. “When I left the island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths.”
Trump then blamed Democrats for the figures, “to make me look as bad as possible.”
A study conducted by The Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, determined the death toll at 2,975, a figure accepted by Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló, and far beyond the previous official count of 64.
FEMA administrator Brock Long wrote in a letter to Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts that there have been 2,431 applications for funeral assistance from Puerto Rico, as of July 30. Just 75 have been approved by the Trump administration so far because of eligibility questions.
The president’s tweets came as the government prepares for Hurricane Florence’s impact on the Carolinas, and set off a storm of criticism in Twitter. Chef José Andrés, whose charity fed thousands on the island in the aftermath of the storm, said Trump is “the face of no shame.”
Another Trump critic, and a target of his tweets, San Juan Mayor Carmen Ulin Cruz tweeted, “Trump is so vain he thinks this is about him.”
On Tuesday, Trump claimed his administration’s efforts in Puerto Rico were “an unsung success,” despite criticism that the federal response to the storms was slow. Some homes only had their power restored this month, a year after the hurricane.