President Donald Trump is denying his own government’s report that nearly 3,000 people died last year in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which pummeled the island and left millions without power.
Trump took to Twitter on Thursday and dismissed the figure, saying that when he visited the island the death toll was much lower.
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
The president’s tweets come as Hurricane Florence heads toward the Carolinas, possibly dumping 10 trillion gallons of water on North Carolina, CNN reports.
In regards to the storm in Puerto Rico, Trump blamed the Democrats, claiming they inflated the numbers and added people who died of old ageto the death toll.
“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!”
In December, officials said that only 64 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria. A report released in August updated that number to 2,975, 46 times larger than the initial figure.
Trump was quickly condemned for falsely claiming that the death toll was much lower.
“This is a flat-out lie,” tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). “The Puerto Rican government raised the official death toll to 2,975 people after multiple, credible estimates.”
This is a flat-out lie, @realDonaldTrump. The Puerto Rican government raised the official death toll to 2,975 people after multiple, credible estimates. https://t.co/mkcqshrRjk pic.twitter.com/sKyAA4hewH
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) September 13, 2018