Senate

Sanders slams Trump for touting Puerto Rico response: 'What a disgrace'

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday bashed President Trump for repeatedly touting his administration's efforts in Puerto Rico dealing with Hurricane Maria, which led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 people on the island.

"Trump tweeted this morning he did a 'great job' handling the hurricane crisis in Puerto Rico," Sanders tweeted. "Meanwhile, new estimates put the Hurricane Maria death toll at nearly 3,000. What a disgrace."

Sanders shared an accompanying video that showed scenes from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, as well as interviews from Trump and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who has been an outspoken critic of the administration's disaster response.

The president on Tuesday and Wednesday extolled the work of his administration handling hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico last year as he sought to assure the public that the federal government was prepared for Hurricane Florence as it heads toward the Carolinas.

The president attracted criticism from Democrats and Puerto Rican officials on Tuesday after he said his administration did its "best job" in responding to the island last year.

"I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success," Trump said. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called Trump's remarks "offensive, hurtful and blatantly false."

Cruz also slammed Trump's assessment of the response, tweeting "God help us all" if Trump viewed the Puerto Rico efforts as a success. 

The president has continued to provide positive assessments of the administration's work in Puerto Rico, even after the island's government acknowledged that nearly 3,000 people died because of the storm. 

Island officials increased the death toll late last month after a George Washington University study that assessed the aftermath of the storm found the number was significantly higher than the 64 deaths that had originally been reported.

Puerto Rico's government-owned utility announced last month that it had restored electricity to all of its customers, nearly 11 months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

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