Ben Shapiro calls Trump Puerto Rico death toll claim 'absurd and gross'

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro on Thursday condemned President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE for claiming without evidence that Democrats inflated Puerto Rico's death toll following Hurricane Maria "to make me look bad."

ADVERTISEMENT

"Trump's denial of the official death toll from Hurricane Maria is absurd and gross, even though there is uncertainty in the death count," Shapiro tweeted.

The Daily Wire editor-in-chief shared a link to an article in which he noted there are multiple estimates of how many people died as a result of Hurricane Maria, but disputed Trump's assertion that the original tally of a few dozen deaths was more accurate.

"The official Puerto Rican count isn’t guaranteed, by any measure. But it’s surely higher than the original count, and it’s absurd for Trump to claim otherwise," Shapiro wrote.

Shapiro, who has emerged as one of the more prominent conservative voices of the Trump era, has occasionally spoken out in disagreement with the president's policies or rhetoric.

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.

The tweets, which came as the government is preparing for potential destruction caused by Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas and Georgia, prompted swift criticism from Democrats, Puerto Rican officials and some Republicans.