President TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE on Friday night doubled down in questioning the nearly 3,000-person death toll in Puerto Rico after a pair of hurricanes pummeled the island last year.
Trump sent two tweets casting doubt on the estimate reached by researchers at George Washington University (GWU) earlier this year. Researchers issued a statement earlier this week standing by their study after Trump initially questioned the results.
The president continued to cast doubt on the findings late Friday, writing on Twitter that he was told shortly after the storm hit last fall that 16 people had died from Hurricane Maria before the death toll was updated months later to 64.
"Then, like magic, '3000 PEOPLE KILLED,' " Trump wrote.
The president questioned how GWU researchers reached their estimate that 2,975 people died in the months following the storm.
"FIFTY TIMES LAST ORIGINAL NUMBER - NO WAY!" he tweeted.
“When Trump visited the island territory last October, OFFICIALS told him in a briefing 16 PEOPLE had died from Maria.” The Washington Post. This was long AFTER the hurricane took place. Over many months it went to 64 PEOPLE. Then, like magic, “3000 PEOPLE KILLED.” They hired....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2018
....GWU Research to tell them how many people had died in Puerto Rico (how would they not know this?). This method was never done with previous hurricanes because other jurisdictions know how many people were killed. FIFTY TIMES LAST ORIGINAL NUMBER - NO WAY!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2018
“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 tweeted Thursday.
.....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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2018
Trump faced widespread criticism for the remarks from Democrats and Republicans alike.
"How stupid, how tone deaf, how surreal, how insensitive, how offensive," Trump critic and GOP strategist Ana Navarro said on CNN. "Just, you know, how wrong in every single way."
Even Trump allies Gov. Rick Scott (R), who is running for Senate in Florida, and former Rep. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisFlorida makes quarantine optional for students exposed to COVID-19 Florida Republican files abortion bill similar to Texas's The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - House Democrats plagued by Biden agenda troubles MORE (R), who is running for Florida governor, disagreed with the president’s claims.
Trump also got in hot water this week for saying the federal response to the hurricanes in Puerto Rico was an “unsung success” despite the high death toll, which surpassed that of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“Trump simply does not get it. Thus his neglect towards Puerto Rico cost about 3,000 lives. Unfortunately, it seems he will never get it,” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz responded on Twitter.
Trump simply does not get it. Thus his neglect towards Puerto Rico cost about 3,000 lives. Unfortunately, it seems he will never get it.— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) September 11, 2018
Updated: Sept. 15 at 12:08 a.m.