Trump disputes Puerto Rico storm death toll, draws outcry

Andrew Caballero  AFP  Getty ImagesA large rain cloud passes over a day before the arrival of hurricane Florence in Wilmington N.C. on Sept. 12 2018

Andrew Caballero AFP Getty ImagesA large rain cloud passes over a day before the arrival of hurricane Florence in Wilmington N.C. on Sept. 12 2018

The Hot Topics table was sacked up this morning on "The View", as the show dove into President Donald Trump's latest tweets saying a report on the death toll in Puerto Rico was inflated to make him look bad.

Both candidates for Florida governor- plus the current governor - agree on at least one thing: President Trump is wrong when he says the latest death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was inflated to make him look bad. He said the toll was no greater than 18 when he visited the island a year ago and "did not go up by much". "Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3,000".

Trump said on Twitter that "they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths" at the time he visited the island after the storm.

A report published in May by the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health said up to 4,600 people were killed and an investigation published in December by the Center for Investigative Journalism found the actual death toll exceeded 1,000 people.

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". But even some Republicans-especially those in Florida-are among those disagreeing with the president's assertion about the estimate from researchers at George Washington University.

Cruz maintains the federal government's response to the hurricane was slow and inadequate while Trump said it was a success.

San Juan mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said the president's comments "added insult to injury".

The findings were embraced by the government of Puerto Rico as the study was released.

Trump had earlier said the reported death tolls from the storm that devastated Puerto Rico were exaggerated, and included older people and others who died.

If the new figures are accurate, Hurricane Maria is the deadliest storm to have hit Puerto Rico since the 1899 San Ciriaco hurricane.

The General Services Administration (GSA) in Puerto Rico took possession of the supplies in April and began distributing the water in May, Bahamonde said. At the time, the government's death toll stood at 64.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum said "no death is partisan and our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico deserved better from @realDonaldTrump before, during and after the hurricane". "He sees these facts and sees people blaming him for the 3,000 deaths and I think what he's trying to get across is the fact that, and Ana knows this, Puerto Rico was not in great shape", he argued.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who spent part of his youth in Puerto Rico, spoke on the House floor in front of a printout of the Puerto Rican flag, saying Trump is "delusional" and incapable of "empathy or basic human decency".

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