Trump Won't Back Down From Denial of Hurricane Death Toll

President's Friday tweetstorm praised FEMA, railed against Puerto Rico death toll from Hurricane Maria
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2018 8:40 AM CDT
Trump Doubles Down on Puerto Rico Death Toll Claims
President Trump speaks during a reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Trump spent much of Friday evening digging into a claim he'd made the previous day that spurred instant backlash. On Thursday, Trump accused Democrats of inflating the death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria, which a recent George Washington University report updated from 64 to 2,975. Then, as everyone headed into a weekend set to be dominated by Hurricane Florence news, Trump took to Twitter to first send a series of tweets and retweets praising FEMA, and himself, for the cleanup and rebuilding efforts after the hurricane. Next, Trump continued to push back on the widely accepted study that nearly 3,000 people had died as a result of Hurricane Maria. First, per Deadline, Trump quoted Geraldo Rivera, who's been in Trump's corner on the hurricane hubbub.

That tweet: "They say all these people died in the storm in Puerto Rico, yet 70% of the power was out before the storm. So when did people start dying?" (The Los Angeles Times notes 96% of Puerto Rico's residents had power before the storm.) Then Trump cited a Washington Post article noting he'd been told by officials in October that 16 people had died. "Over many months it went to 64 PEOPLE," he tweeted. "Then, like magic, '3000 PEOPLE KILLED.'" He went on to rip the GWU study, ending with: "FIFTY TIMES LAST ORIGINAL NUMBER - NO WAY!" The Hill reports on Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello's response. "Mr. President— I'd very much be willing to walk you through the scientific process of the study," Rossello tweeted, adding: "In the meantime, I hope you consider sending a message of support to show you stand with all of the US Citizens in Puerto Rico that lost loved ones. It would certainly be an act of respect and empathy. (Read more President Trump stories.)

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