Muslim Times(Web Desk) – US President Donald Trump has disputed the official death toll of 3,000 from hurricanes in Puerto Rico last year, falsely claiming Democrats in Congress had fabricated the fake figure.
“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000,” Trump tweeted on Thursday.
In September 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico.Fatalities from the storms had been officially recorded at 11 and 64, respectively. However, earlier this month, the island’s governor formally raised the death toll from hurricane-related deaths to an estimated 2,975.
“This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico… I love Puerto Rico!” he added.
Trump has praised the handling of Hurricane Maria, saying earlier this week that it was “an incredible, unsung success.”
His tweets come as his administration prepares for Hurricane Florence – a category two storm – whose high winds have already begun to batter the US East Coast.
Hurricanes typically provide a platform for elected officials to display leadership and strength. And a poor response, such as the government’s during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, can do significant damage to approval ratings.
The emergency response to Maria became highly politicized as the Trump administration was criticized as being slow in providing disaster relief to Puerto Rico.
Republicans parted ways with Trump in the dispute over the death toll.
US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters he has “no reason to dispute those numbers.” “Casualties don’t make a person look bad, so I have no reason to dispute these numbers,” he said on Thursday.
“I disagree with @POTUS,” Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott wrote on Twitter.
Representative Carlos Curbelo, another Republican from South Florida said he could not understand why Trump would dispute the official death toll, inaccurately claiming the number of people who died was lower that announced.
“We should all be focused on what is about to happen in the Carolinas and not politicize hurricanes and hurricane relief,” Mr. Curbelo said.
Also Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, once again strongly criticized both the president and his administration for their poor response to hurricanes.
“This is what denial following neglect looks like: Mr Pres in the real world people died on your watch,” she wrote on Twitter.
“YOUR LACK OF RESPECT IS APPALLING!” she added before calling Trump delusional and unhinged from reality.