San Juan mayor blasts Trump: ‘This is what denial following neglect looks like’
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Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, blasted President TrumpDonald TrumpPence: Supreme Court has chance to right 'historic wrong' with abortion ruling Prosecutor says during trial that actor Jussie Smollett staged 'fake hate crime' Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE on Thursday after the president claimed without evidence that the death toll from Hurricane Maria had been inflated by Democrats to make him look bad.

"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!" Cruz tweeted. 


"Mr Trump you can try and bully us with your tweets BUT WE KNOW OUR LIVES MATTER. You will never take away our self respect. Shame on you!" she added in a subsequent tweet.

Trump on Thursday cast doubt on a study that found nearly 3,000 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico last year.

"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths," Trump tweeted. "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 went on to claim that Democrats were responsible for the increased death toll as part of a plot to make him look "as bad as possible."

"If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!" Trump tweeted.

Cruz, who has been among Trump's most outspoken critics, issued a series of blistering tweets in response on Thursday morning, tearing into Trump as “delusional, paranoid and unhinged from any sense of reality.”

"Thousands of americans, our diaspora & latinos that came to PR to care for us and become advocates for our people deserve better than this," Cruz tweeted.

“Damn it: this is NOT about politics this was always about SAVING LIVES,” she added.

The mayor also shared a video from an interview last week in which she derides the Trump administration's response to Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rican officials late last month increased the death toll as a result of the 2017 storm to 2,975 after a study by George Washington University that assessed the aftermath of the hurricane found the number was significantly higher than the 64 deaths that had originally been reported.

Cruz, Democrats and other Puerto Rican officials have been sharply critical of the Trump administration's response to the hurricane on the island, arguing that it stalled recovery efforts and led to additional deaths.

Trump has remained unflinchingly positive about the government's handling of the hurricane, however, giving himself a "10" and declaring it an "incredible, unsung success."

The president's remarks on Thursday came as Hurricane Florence barreled toward the mid-Atlantic coast.