Democrats raised Puerto Rico death toll ‘to make me look bad’: Trump blasted for ‘appalling’ tweets
As Hurricane Florence bears down on the US, President Trump was blasted online after he said that the death count for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year was raised by Democrats to make him look bad.
“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico,” Trump tweeted, referring to a recent study that significantly expanded the US government’s initial assessment that 64 people died when Hurricane Maria battered the island last September.
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
.....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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2018
The revised death count, he continued, “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!”
Commissioned by Puerto Rico’s governor, the study found that the authorities’ initial figure of 64 deaths was likely as low due to officials strictly classifying only certain deaths – such as those caused by collapsing buildings, flying debris, floods and drownings – as caused by the hurricane.
In estimating the ‘true’ death toll, researchers looked at historical data to estimate how many people would have died had the hurricane not hit the island. That figure was then compared to the number of deaths reported from September 2017, when the hurricane hit, to February 2018, when the island still struggled with blackouts and a shortages of essential supplies on the road to recovery.
Its final figure of 2,975 did include some who died of natural causes, such as old age, and those whose deaths could arguably be blamed on disease, exposure or lack of access to clean water or electricity. It also cautions that "the specific cause of each individual death is not known; thus only an aggregate number of deaths in excess of historical variation can be estimated." A range of other studies have placed the death toll estimate anywhere between 500 and 6,000.
Trump was torn apart online for his tweets. Carmen Yulin Cruz, mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, shot back on Twitter, calling Trump’s “lack of respect”“appalling.” Rep Ted Lieu (D-California) called the president’s statement “a monstrous lie.”
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! pic.twitter.com/OJEDqT74Sr— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) September 13, 2018
The problem with this statement by @realDonaldTrump on Puerto Rico is not just that it's a monstrous lie, it's that @POTUS won't learn from the mistakes that were made if he views his efforts as an unsung success. That puts more Americans at risk in future disasters. https://t.co/R7muQOmego— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) September 13, 2018
No death is partisan and our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico deserved better from @realDonaldTrump before, during, and after the hurricane.— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) September 13, 2018
Other than from politicians, scorn flowed in from celebrities, the media, and the anti-Trump #resistance.
Fake news, fake polls, fake books, now fake deaths. Hopefully someone will brief Trump on what the Puerto Rico mortality studies really showed. https://t.co/sTuPVr1p0R— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) September 13, 2018
Did...did Donald Trump blame the Democrats for the deaths in Puerto Rico to make him look bad?Insane.— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) September 13, 2018
Wrong, @realDonaldTrump. The independent research by scientists in the US on the *actual* number of deaths attributable to Hurricane #Maria is NOT about inflicting you harm.It’s about the harm that YOU inflicted upon Americans in #PuertoRico due to your neglect & incompetence. pic.twitter.com/P8mjD9E8j8— Dr. Dena Grayson (@DrDenaGrayson) September 13, 2018
My heart goes out to the 10,000+ Americans who not only have to live with the fact that they lost their love ones due to the inactions of Donald Trump in Puerto Rico, but now also need to live with the President claiming that their love ones didn't even die!— Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen) September 13, 2018
Trump’s tweet came a day after he praised his administration’s response to the storm, and bashed Mayor Cruz for allegedly sabotaging the relief effort to score political points against him. The allegations of sabotage were based on a handful of anecdotal testimonies from Puerto Ricans on the ground.
If the new figures are accurate, Hurricane Maria is the deadliest storm to have hit Puerto Rico since the 1899 San Ciriaco hurricane. It began as a tropical storm off the west coast of Africa, intensifying as it approached the Caribbean. It made landfall on Puerto Rico on September 20, battering the island with winds of up to 155 miles per hour, ripping buildings apart and uprooting trees.
The president’s tweets also come one day after it was revealed that hundreds of thousands of bottles of water, delivered by FEMA after the hurricane hit, are still sitting on an airplane runway in Puerto Rico. The Trump administration and the island’s own government have both been slammed for failing to see that they were distributed to people in need.
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