Ryan: 'No Reason' to Dispute Puerto Rico Death Toll Challenged by Trump

Arturo Kim
September 14, 2018

President Donald Trump said Thursday he doesn't believe 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico previous year as a result of Hurricanes Maria and Irma - a claim that drew swift criticism from members of both parties.

President Trump is pushing back at media claims that his administration's lackluster response to Hurricane Maria helps explain the devastating death toll in Puerto Rico. "Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000..." he said, apparently in reference to the official tolls that came out months after the storm.

In a latest fit of fury, Trump successfully enraged millions of Americans by claiming the nearly 3,000 deaths in Puerto Rico after the devastation caused by two back-to-back hurricanes were fake news.

The 3,000 figure Trump referenced comes from a study conducted by George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health. Not only because it seemed indifferent to Puerto Rican suffering, but also because it is demonstrably false. "This study, commissioned by the Government of Puerto Rico, was carried out with complete independence and freedom from any kind of interference".

Yet, Trump insisted Hurricane Maria was an "unsung success" and the revised death toll was some ploy by Democrats to undermine him. "Those are just the facts of what happened".

Earlier this week, Mr Trump hailed the USA response in Puerto Rico as "an incredible, unsung success". I've been to Puerto Rico 7 times & saw devastation firsthand.

The president ignited controversy when he tweeted that the approximate 3,000 death toll was inflated by Democrats.

Stephen Lawson said DeSantis "has always worked to help the Puerto Rican community", and the former congressman representing Volusia and Flagler counties held a House oversight hearing earlier this year to identify deficiencies in the federal response to Hurricane Maria.

She says Trump's presidency is "the theater of the absurd every day". "Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!", he added.

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Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosello said in a statement this week that Maria was "the worst natural disaster in our modern history".

We are extremely concerned about the fragile state of Puerto Rico's services, infrastructure, and state of recovery going into the 2018 hurricane season, and can only hope the U.S. government is better prepared for this week's impending storms, including Hurricane Florence and the tropical storms building in the Caribbean.

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".

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.

"I hate talking about politics and all that, but I think this is more than politics".

"I think these statements make him illegitimate as a president of the United States", she said.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz responded: "Simply put: delusional, paranoid, and unhinged from any sense of reality".

"I hate that people are making it a political issue".

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