Tapper on Trump’s Puerto Rico tweet: He ‘seems to think that the real victim is him’

CNN’s Jake Tapper tore into President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Trump-Biden debate clash The Memo: Debate or debacle? Democrats rip Trump for not condemning white supremacists, Proud Boys at debate MORE on Sunday for his recent tweets rejecting the Puerto Rican death toll following Hurricane Maria, saying Trump thinks he is the “real victim.”

Trump on Friday continued to deny the nearly 3,000-person death toll in Puerto Rico after a pair of hurricanes hit the island in 2017.

“President Trump making it clear this week that when it came to the national tragedy caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, he seems to think that the real victim is him,” Tapper said on Sunday morning’s edition of his “State of The Union” show.


The president said his administration’s response to the hurricane was an “unsung success” and claimed without evidence that Democrats inflated the number to make him look bad.

“The president is combining a few of his favorite things here in this false claim,” Tapper said. “Blaming the Democrats, tending to the needs of his ego and reputation, and carelessly spreading conspiracy theories without ever issuing a fraction of proof to back up what he’s saying.”

Tapper shared several other “lies” that Trump has pushed over the years.

His list included Trump’s promotion of the “birther” conspiracy theory against former President Obama and his claim that he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey on television celebrating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Trump also claimed — without evidence — that he lost the popular vote during the 2016 presidential election because millions of illegal votes were cast.

“And now in the middle of another deadly storm, he blithely dismisses the Puerto Rico death toll and takes an undeserved victory lap around an island that is still suffering,” Tapper said.

Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., as a Category 1 storm around 7:30 a.m. on Friday, bringing severe flooding to the Carolinas. 

Trump said he doubts the estimate reached by researchers at George Washington University (GWU).

During a Friday night series of tweets, Trump said he was originally told the death toll following Hurricane Maria last fall was 16.

“Over many months it went to 64 PEOPLE. Then, like magic, ‘3000 PEOPLE KILLED,’ ” Trump wrote.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló last month updated the government's official death toll for Hurricane Maria to match the results of the study commissioned from GWU.

"We stand by the science underlying our study which found there were an estimated 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria," GWU's Milken Institute School of Public Health said in a statement this week. "We are confident that the number — 2,975 — is the most accurate and unbiased estimate of excess mortality to date."

Tapper said it is one thing to question the methodology of the study but “dismissing those numbers as part of an attempt to victimize him — that’s another.”

Rosselló said Friday that that he would like to walk Trump through how scientific researchers came to that estimate. 

“There is no reason to underscore the tragedy we have suffered in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria,” Rosselló tweeted.

“In the meantime, I hope you consider sending a message of support to show you stand with all of the US Citizens in Puerto Rico that lost loved ones. It would certainly be an act of respect and empathy,” he continued.

Tapper ended his segment on Sunday morning by reminding Trump of his election night pledge — to be a president for “all Americans.”

“Puerto Ricans are Americans too, Mr. President,” Tapper said.