Fury over Trump’s Maria toll claims
BY CATHERINE LUCEY DONALD Trump has sparked more outrage by disputing the death toll from Hurricane Maria last year – and falsely accusing Democrats of inflating the Puerto Rican count.
Public health experts estimate that nearly 3000 people died because of the effects of Maria.
But the US president – whose efforts to help the island territory recover have been slammed – claimed just six to 18 people had been reported dead when he visited two weeks after the storm.
He also suggested that many had been added later “if a person died for any reason, like old age”.
Trump’s comments came as the US east coast is hit by Hurricane Florence.
He said of the Puerto Rico death toll: “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.”
Even some Republicans suggested the president had gone too far. Senate contender Governor Rick Scott – whose Florida state has a large Puerto Rican population – tweeted: “I’ve been to Puerto Rico seven times and saw devastation firsthand. The loss of any life is tragic.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan added: “Casualties don’t make a person look bad. I have no reason to dispute those numbers.”
Senator Lindsey Graham said: “I don’t think it’s bad to say we could have done better in Puerto Rico.”
He also said he thought Trump “sees every attack on him as sort of undercutting his legitimacy”.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said: “President Trump was responding to the liberal media and the San Juan Mayor who, sadly, have tried to exploit the devastation by pushing out a constant stream of misinformation and false accusations.”
DEFIANCE Message on home in Atlantic Beach YELL ON EARTH Lane Pittman of Jacksonville bares storm and woman and dog are rescued in James City, right RELIEF A volunteer from the Civilian Crisis Response Team rescues a child in James City. Picture: Getty
WARNING STV’s Sean Batty
CRASS Donald Trump