Donald Trump disputes Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria death toll, blames Democrats

Trump says Democrats inflated Puerto Rico death toll

"The loss of any life is tragic", Scott continued, "the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching".

"I just wanna state that not only is this a sickening tweet, it is in no way true", Colbert said.

When Trump was criticized for his lackadaisical response, he added insult to injury by blasting the mayor of San Juan for "poor leadership ability".

An independent study found that 2,975 people died in the six months after Hurricane Maria, leading Puerto Rico's governor in late August to raise the official death toll for the disaster. Trump dismissed the findings Thursday, tweeting: "If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list". "Direct" deaths include such fatalities as drownings in a storm surge or being crushed in a wind-toppled building. 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.

The adjustment of the official death toll followed almost a year of campaigning by journalists, activists and academics to get the government to officially acknowledge the scale of devastation because 64 people was always considered an underestimate.

George Washington University researchers are standing by their study that concluded the death toll following Hurricane Maria was 2,975.

A Harvard University study in May said at least 4,645 died.

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At the same time, the top Republican in Congress, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, said he had no reason to dispute the official death toll, while Republican Senator Marco Rubio said tragedy should not be politicised. Among them were a lack of training for physicians on how to certify deaths after a natural disaster and the government's lack of communication about proper death-certificate reporting before the 2017 hurricane season. We are public health people. But the after-effects, people don't talk about that. Cruz maintains the federal government's response was slow and inadequate. This is more fake news propagated by anti-Trump activists.

The president defended the federal government's "fantastic job" in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló admitted the government made mistakes handling the storm but he insisted it was not due to political considerations.

Republican response was largely muted.

The revelation comes at roughly the same time that Yulin Cruz appeared on CNN to bash Trump and also attacked the president in a series of tweets this week.

Santana, who works as a photographer with the Puerto Rican state police, told CBS News he took the photographs because he is frustrated to see them still sitting there.

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