Senate Hopeful Rick Scott Breaks With Trump Over Puerto Rico Deaths

Geraldine Edwards
September 17, 2018

Hurricane Maria was deadlier than Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5 storm that killed 1,833 people in 2005.

"Over many months, it went to 64 people", Trump tweeted.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers spent days pushing back on Trump's claims that the staggering death toll of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is false and made up to make him look bad.

Trump tweeted at 7:05 p.m. Friday, about four hours after the first reported deaths from Florence were announced, that he visited Puerto Rico last October and was told by officials on the island that 16 people had died. 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..." he said, apparently in reference to the official tolls that came out months after the storm.

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"He's talking about the one a year ago because he's been tweeting a lot about how good a job he did responding to Hurricane Maria that decimated Puerto Rico last year, resulting in the death of nearly 3,000 American citizens".

"The people of Puerto Rico know the American government failed them", Velasquez said.

While Trump has praised his administration for its "incredibly successful" handling of Hurricane Maria, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz has blasted the government for failing to provide appropriate assistance in the aftermath of the storm.

Trump calls the government's response in Puerto Rico "successful" even though a federal report shows 2,975 people died.

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The adjustment of the official death toll followed almost a year of campaigning by journalists, activists and academics to get the government to officially acknowledge the scale of devastation because 64 people was always considered an underestimate.

Members of both parties on Capitol Hill disagreed with the president's statements. These researchers used the mortality data and performed certain analyzes to determine exactly how many Puerto Ricans died during or after the hurricane.

"He's talking about the one a year ago, because he's been tweeting a lot about what a great job he did responding to Hurricane Maria, that decimated Puerto Rico last year", Colbert said. "I am begging. I am begging anyone that can hear us to save us from dying".

Meanwhile, Hurricane Florence barreled toward North Carolina.

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