Trump Falsely Claims Revised Puerto Rico Death Toll Is Fake News

Andrew Caballero  AFP  Getty ImagesA large rain cloud passes over a day before the arrival of hurricane Florence in Wilmington N.C. on Sept. 12 2018

As Hurricane Florence approached the Carolinas on Thursday morning, Trump disputed the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico because of Hurricane Maria past year, claiming the figure was a Democratic plot to make him look bad.

The media has also used the hurricane to attack Trump, often blaming his administration for any failures in Puerto Rico, even if the fault lies with Puerto Rican officials.

Thursday, Stewart's spokeswoman, Daryn Frischknecht, said the congressman "doesn't have anything to add to the conversation" about the president's assessment of the death toll. When Fox News finally mentioned Trump's statements, Fox reporter Jacqui Heinrich did not read the text of his denials, but instead stated only that Trump was "firing back on Twitter over his response to Puerto Rico, saying that Democrats are trying to make him look bad".

On Thursday morning, President Donald Trump suggested, via Twitter, that Democrats had inflated the death toll in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017.

This is not the first time Trump has tried to downplay the catastrophic hurricane, during his visit to the island soon after Maria hit, Trump said Puerto Ricans should be thankful it wasn't a "real catastrophe" like Hurricane Katrina. By increasing the official death toll, he is not just making Trump look bad - he is making himself look bad, too, not only for possible mismanagement of the hurricane response but also for releasing such unrealistically low fatality figures initially.

The report compared predicted mortality under normal circumstances and deaths documented after Maria.

"This study, commissioned by the Government of Puerto Rico, was carried out with complete independence and freedom from any kind of interference", the university said in a statement.

"During our broader study, we found that many physicians were not oriented in the appropriate certification protocol", according to the report from the researchers at GWU.

George Washington University stood by its estimate.

"FEMA put that water out on that airstrip for the objective of getting it out of containers, so that there would be no cost to us and no cost to the taxpayer", he said.

Needless to say, the reason the death toll has been revised upward is not because of any conspiracy.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted in response, "I disagree with @POTUS- an independent study said thousands were lost and Gov. Rosselló agreed".

"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico", he tweeted.

"Only Donald Trump could see the tragedy in Puerto Rico and conclude that he is the victim".

Thursday's tweets drew the ire of Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan, who has sharply criticized both the president and his administration's response to Maria.

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