Washington (CNN)Nearly 3,000 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. President Donald Trump denied this reality as a hurricane barrels toward the Carolinas.
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…
With another fierce storm bearing down on the Atlantic Coast, President Trump has frequently praised his administrations response to Maria. He tweeted Thursday morning that independent estimates of around 3,000 deaths in Puerto Rico from last Septembers hurricane were exaggerated.
I disagree with @POTUS– an independent study said thousands were lost and Gov. Rosselló agreed. I've been to Puerto Rico 7 times & saw devastation firsthand. The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching. I'll continue to help PR
CNNs Kevin Liptak, Jeremy Diamond, Natalie Gallon, Ashley Killough and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.
Trumps false claims about Puerto Rico are insulting. But they reveal a deeper truth.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) on Thursday said he has no reason to dispute the official Hurricane Maria death toll in Puerto Rico, hours after President Donald Trump accused Democrats of fabricating the numbers.
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Despite the federal governments widely panned response to the devastating storm, Ryan on Thursday claimed no one could be blamed for the nearly 3,000 lives lost in the aftermath of Maria.
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Casualties dont make a person look bad, Ryan told reporters. This was a horrible storm.
He added: Casualties mounted for a long time. … This is a devastating storm that hit an isolated island. And thats really no ones fault. Its just what happened.
But Trump is guilty of the reciprocal delusion of refusing to accept fault for anything at any time. “You just never give an inch or admit any mistake in public,” a senior Trump adviser said about the presidents thinking. That explains Trumps comments about Hurricane Maria just as Hurricane Florence was bearing down on the Carolinas.
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Trump was met with swift backlash earlier Thursday when he denied nearly 3,000 people died after back-to-back hurricanes ravaged Puerto Rico in September 2017, as estimated by a government-commissioned study last month. Citing no evidence, he claimed Democrats made up the numbers to make him look as bad as possible.
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Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló raised the official death toll from 64 to 2,975 following the release of a study that was conducted by researchers at George Washington Universitys Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Experts have pointed to a lack of government preparedness as one reason for the massive loss of life in Puerto Rico. For weeks ― and in some cases, for months ― many Puerto Rican households were without access to medical services, water, cell phone coverage and electricity.
That caused a number of issues, Lynn Goldman, dean of the Milken Institute, told USA Today last month. Its fairly striking that you have so many households without electricity for so long. Thats unusual in the U.S. after a disaster.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Thursday that he would like to see a congressional hearing into the federal governments response to Maria.
Theres no doubt in my mind that mistakes were made, Graham told reporters. If I were in the committees of jurisdiction Id like to have a hearing on Puerto Rico. How many people died? Where did the response fall short locally? Where did it fall short federally? And what can we learn here?
Eighty percent of Puerto Ricans rate Trumps response to Hurricane Maria negatively, according to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll published Wednesday. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz was one of the most vocal critics of the federal governments rescue and recovery efforts. She repeatedly begged the president during TV appearances to send additional aid to Puerto Rico.
People died on your watch, Cruz tweeted in response to Trumps death denial Thursday. YOUR LACK OF RESPECT IS APPALLING!
Still, as Hurricane Florence bears down on the Carolinas, Trump has described the federal governments response to the storms in Puerto Rico as unappreciated and an unsung success.