by Alice Monroe
Trump falsely claims nearly 3,000 Americans in Puerto Rico 'did not die' from Hurricane Maria last year - as Hurricane Florence barrels its way towards the East Coast.
If you live in the US right now, particularly on the east coast, you will undoubtedly be preparing for the oncoming threat of Hurricane Florence, which has caused particular concern in weather circles over the past few weeks. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses are set to face destruction across the Carolina coast and into Virginia, with the possibility of the storm creating more havoc in the coming weeks as it is thought to hover inland towards Georgia. There will, of course, always be news available on the hurricane via our live pages as soon as we receive it – but for now, a storm of a different kind is taking place in the White House, and it’s surrounding figures which have arisen from Florence’s predecessor, last year's devastating Hurricane Maria.
▶ Trump politicizes death toll from Hurricane Maria
Maria was officially thought to have claimed 64 lives across Puerto Rico during its trail of destruction – with President Trump having hailed the US’ response to the disaster as an ‘unsung success’. However, figures which have been researched by those operating at George Washington University appear to show something quite different. This, in line with a statement from Puerto Rico government officials that at least 2,975 people lost their lives in the hurricane, suggests that there’s a clear conflict on the news front. Is this ‘fake news’ in action? Trump – as confident as ever – was quick to quash such claims, and even took to Twitter to suggest that the figures were inflated by Democrats sources to make the President ‘look as bad as possible’. Could this be a new low for the President – given the sheer sensitivity of the subject?
“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico,” the President tweeted. “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 (…) 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.”
▶ This Tweet Trumps All Other Horrible Trump Tweets (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert)
Trump’s tweets in defense of the statistics officially supplied by the White House do go against those claimed by Puerto Rico officials – which has led the President to the headlines over very sensitive data indeed.