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Trump Says Puerto Rico Death Count Is A Democratic Conspiracy Against Him

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President Donald Trump expressed his dismay and disbelief on an official death toll that was released last month, suggesting that the number was concocted by Democrats in order to make him look bad.

Trump made the allegations in a series of two tweets on Thursday morning. “3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico,” he wrote. “When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths.”

That official death total was disputed from the beginning, however, as being incredibly misleading. Because the hurricane was so devastating, officials could not even count the dead, and the low number of deaths cited by Trump were not considered reliable.

In a second tweet, Trump attacked the study itself, which estimated (using three different statistical analyses) around 2,975 individuals perished as a result of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, was a an attempt by the Democratic Party to tarnish his image.

“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,” Trump wrote. “If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!”

The study was, in fact, conducted by George Washington University and commissioned by the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, who is a Democrat. But the claims by the president, that the study was commissioned in order to make him look bad, are largely unfounded, and it’s unclear where Trump generated this idea from. The president did not provide any proof for his accusation.

The study wasn’t as simple as Trump is making it out to be, either. The statistics gathered went through a meticulous and methodical process, analyzing death data from the current decade and comparing it to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Three different analyses using different measuring tools were used to come up with the accepted estimate of 2,975 deaths on the island as a result of the storm.

On the issue of “raising billions of dollars” for Puerto Rico, more context is needed as well. While a lot of aid was dispersed to the island, some of it was withheld by the Trump administration itself, and the island was actually expected at one point to pay back the aid it had received, much different than how the administration treated hurricane recovery efforts in Texas and Florida that year.

The comments come as the nation braces for impact of Hurricane Florence off the southeastern coast of the United States. Some are worried that the president hasn’t fully prepared for that event, either, due to the fact that millions of dollars were recently transferred away from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help fund controversial immigrant detention programs.

Featured image credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr


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