Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

On Puerto Rico, Trump Is Right

On Puerto Rico, Trump Is Right

Having already drawn widespread criticism from members of his own party earlier this week for a claim made without evidence that the death toll was ginned up by Democrats in order to slime him, Trump once again tried to cast doubt on the estimated 2,975 killed by Hurricane Maria in the USA territory.

Earlier this month, the governor of Puerto Rico raised the death toll to 2,975 from 64 following a study conducted by researchers from the Milken Institute at George Washington University at the government's request.

The death toll from Maria, the most powerful storm to hit there in nearly a century, was raised last month from 64, a number widely discounted as far too low, to 2,975.

Trump's tweet comes a little more than an hour after the conversation aired on Fox News. "This method was never done with previous hurricanes because other jurisdictions know how many people were killed". This number included deaths that were indirectly related to the storm.

The Hot Topics table was sacked up this morning on "The View", as the show dove into President Donald Trump's latest tweets saying a report on the death toll in Puerto Rico was inflated to make him look bad.

A top FEMA official attempted Wednesday to warn people in the path of Hurricane Florence but instead had to shoot down reporters' questions about whether the Trump administration wasted disaster funds on its illegal immigration agenda.

Public health experts have estimated that almost 3,000 perished because of the effects of Maria.

"'When Trump visited the island territory last October, OFFICIALS told him in a briefing 16 PEOPLE had died from Maria.'" Trump quoted The Post's story in a tweet.

That report, while acknowledging that Puerto Rico's power system was on "life support" before the hurricane, also said that approximately 96 per cent of residents had power restored to them after Hurricane Irma hit before Maria. As the Washington Post reported, Trump has been unable to get over the criticisms of his response, and insists that his administration responded properly to the crisis in Puerto Rico.

Trump has been on a tear about the death toll in Puerto Rico for days.

That number was produced by public health experts at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in a report commissioned by the US territory's governor, Ricardo Rossello.

In Florida, which was badly hit by Hurricane Irma a year ago and which received thousands of Puerto Ricans fleeing the devastation of their homes, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis - who has built his campaign around his adherence to Trump's politics - tried to distance himself from the president's words. "How is the hurricane now treated so differently, but the hurricane in Puerto Rico wasn't?" said Santos-Vasquez. Even some Republicans suggested the president had gone too far Thursday.

"If (Trump) doesn't learn from his mistakes, he's going to make them again and people are going to continue to die", she told CNN television. "So I have no reason to dispute those numbers".

President Trump will be visiting areas affected by Hurricane Florence next week, the White House says. He has since sought to minimise the death toll.

Trump touted the federal government's response as "an incredible, unsung success" this week.

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