Trump cites Geraldo Rivera on Puerto Rico: ‘When did people start dying?’

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President Trump on Friday tweeted a quote of Fox News’s Geraldo Rivera ripping media coverage this week of the president’s false claim that Democrats inflated the death count from last year’s hurricanes in Puerto Rico in order to “to make [him] look as bad as possible.”

“ ‘They say all these people died in the storm in Puerto Rico, yet 70% of the power was out before the storm,” he tweeted, tagging Rivera’s Twitter account.

“So when did people start dying? At what point do you recognize that what they are doing is a political agenda couched in the nice language of journalism?’ @GeraldoRivera,” he added.

About 96 percent of Puerto Rico residents had power before Hurricane Maria hit, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

{mosads}Trump came under fire this week for calling the federal response to two hurricanes that killed nearly 3,000 people in Puerto Rico an “unsung success.”

“The job that FEMA, and law enforcement and everybody did working along with the governor in Puerto Rico, I think was tremendous,” Trump said. “I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success.” 

On Thursday, as Hurricane Florence made its way toward the coast of the Carolinas, Trump questioned, without evidence, the validity of a study examining the death toll in Puerto Rico following last year’s storms. A study from George Washington University earlier this year found that 2,975 people died in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló updated the island’s official death toll last month to match that of the study.

“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. 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,” Trump tweeted.

“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. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!” he added.

Trump was criticized widely for his remarks on both sides of the aisle.

“How stupid, how tone deaf, how surreal, how insensitive, how offensive,” Trump critic and Republican strategist Ana Navarro told CNN. “Just you know, how wrong, in every single way.”

Trump allies, too, including Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), who is running for the Senate, and former Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), who is running for governor, distanced themselves from the president’s remarks, wary of alienating the state’s large Hispanic population.

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