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Trump disputes Puerto Rico's death toll from Maria

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News video: Trump disputes Puerto Rico's death toll from MariaDonald TrumpDonald Trump

President Donald Trump disputed Puerto Rico's official death toll of 3,000 from last year's Hurricane Maria, bristling at criticism of his administration's handling of that disaster as Hurricane Florence barrels toward the Southeast.

Jillian Kitchener reports.

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Trump disputes Puerto Rico's death toll from Maria

President Trump Thursday took to Twitter to dispute the official death toll from Hurricane Maria: Tweeting: "3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico.

"This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible." San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz - immediately struck back - Tweeting "This is what denial following neglect looks like: Mr Pres in the real world people died on your watch.

YOUR LACK OF RESPECT IS APPALLING!" A report ordered by the governor of the U.S. territory found that an estimated 2,975 deaths could be attributed to Maria..

Still - President Trump this week - facing a new threat from Hurricane Florence - has been hailing the government's response to Maria as a success: TRUMP: "I think the Puerto Rico was an incredible unsung success." Cruz in an interview with Reuters Wednesday - said the president just doesn't get it.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SAN JUAN MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, SAYING: "If he calls a success - or an unsung success - 3,000 people dying on his watch - definitely he doesn't know what success is." House Speaker Paul Ryan, pressed on the President's claims Thursday..

Couldn't defend Trump's position RYAN: "I have no reason to dispute these numbers.

I was in PR .

It was devastating" That sentiment - shared by outraged lawmakers, with Twitter comments like "shameful" and disgusting".

ONE senator Tweeting: "You're right, Mr. President.

The Hurricane didn't kill 3,000 people.

Your botched response did"



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