Trump Denies Puerto Rico's Hurricane Maria Death Toll

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On September 13, President Trump tweeted: '3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico.

Ron DeSantis ― who during the primary campaign dressed his infant son in a "Make America Great Again" onesie for a TV commercial to show his adoration of Trump ― released a statement disagreeing with Trump's assertion that 3,000 people did not die because of the storm and that the number was the work of Democrats.

The report came almost a year after a much-maligned visit to Puerto Rico by Trump two weeks after Maria, where he implied that residents should be "proud" that the official death toll at the time was just 16 people, far lower than that of a "real catastrophe, like Katrina".

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says it has spent billions of dollars in Puerto Rico, restoring power and helping with property repairs and a massive cleanup.

Then 18 minutes later, he added: "GWU Research to tell them how many people had died in Puerto Rico (how would they not know this?)".

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The official death count increased months after the storm because the government of Puerto Rico originally did not acknowledge counts from news outlets investigating the impact of the storm.

Last month, Hurricane Maria's death toll was found to be much higher than that of Katrina. On Thursday, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz tweeted, "This is what denial following neglect looks like: Mr Pres in the real world people died on your watch".

On Tuesday, when asked if there were lessons to be learned from the 2017 storm ahead of this year's hurricane season, Trump called the response to Maria "one of the best jobs that's ever been done with respect to what this is all about".

Paul Ryan, the Republican house speaker, said he had "no reason to dispute" the death toll of 3,000.

Trump followed up his first Thursday tweet by blaming Democrats - without evidence - for raising the death toll.

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Though Trump continued to assert this week that his administration's efforts in Puerto Rico were "incredibly successful", both the local and federal governments have been heavily criticized for inadequate planning and post-storm response.

"I don't want to comment on what the president said", said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who went on to ask why estimates of the dead had sharply increased over the past year.

In the Republican Party, the pressure to blindly support President Trump regardless of what he says or does can be intense-especially if a senator or representative is seeking reelection in the 2018 midterms.

Cora's comments came as the USA braces for Hurricane Florence, which is expected to cause heavy damage as it slams into the Carolinas this week. The previous official death toll on the island was 64 until researchers shared their report with the Puerto Rican government.

"Damn it: this is NOT about politics this was always about SAVING LIVES".

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On Wednesday, Puerto Rican officials said about 20,000 pallets of water bottles shipped to Puerto Rico after Maria went unused and became too contaminated to drink. "Don't play games with it, it's a big one", Trump warned Americans.