Trump rejects Puerto Rico storm toll of 3000 as Democrat plot

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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 a year ago, claiming the figure was a Democratic plot to make him look bad.

As Hurricane Florence approached the Carolinas, the president picked a fresh fight over the administration's response in Puerto Rico, tweeting: "When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths".

A report earlier this month by the Government Accountability Office described the government as "down to the bottom of the barrel" in staffing by the time Maria hit Puerto Rico, citing a series of other hurricanes and catastrophic wildfires previous year that overwhelmed federal disaster responders.

"Donald Trump today desecrated the thousands of Puerto Ricans who died in Hurricane Maria", he said. "If you want people to take your message seriously maybe have higher production quality than a mid-level YouTube star..."

Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States, is home to some 3.3 million people. "So I have no reason to dispute those numbers".

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In the wake of the media reporting on Trump's tweet, George Washington University released a statement saying it stood by the science in the study.

Ms Cruz then shot back: "If he thinks the death of 3000 people is a success God help us all".

Nerybelle Perez holds a picture of her father, World War II veteran Efrain Perez, who died inside an ambulance after being turned away from the largest public hospital when it had no electricity or water, days after Hurricane Maria passed, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, June 7, 2018.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Cruz responded to Trump's comments Thursday morning in a series of messages on Twitter. "Before, during, and after the two massive hurricanes, the President directed the entire Administration to provide unprecedented support to Puerto Rico". "It's just what happened".

On "Outnumbered" on Thursday, Melissa Francis said she doesn't understand why Trump weighed in on the matter, calling it "incredibly distasteful" to debate Maria's death toll as another deadly hurricane bears down. Brock on Thursday said that "if we made mistakes with the way a program was run, then we'll get this corrected".

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"Only Donald Trump could see the tragedy in Puerto Rico and conclude that he is the victim". "How can we make it so more people die?' You think that was actually happening in the White House?"

They said the study had been commissioned by the Puerto Rico government and was carried out "with complete independence and freedom from any kind of interference".

He added in a tweet: "The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching".

Instead, he argued, without providing evidence, that the death toll was a Democratic claim to make him look bad.

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