Trump claims 3,000 did not die in Puerto Rico

President Trump denied the fact that nearly 3,000 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, tweeting that "3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico". CNN's Leyla Santiago reports from the island.

Posted: Sep 14, 2018 7:44 AM
Updated: Sep 14, 2018 8:07 AM

On Thursday morning, Donald Trump tweeted:

"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. 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. 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!"

So ... the President of the United States is suggesting that the Puerto Rican government -- either in cahoots with or under pressure from Democrats -- inflated the death toll of Hurricane Maria solely in order to make him look bad.

And he is making these entirely unfounded allegations as another hurricane bears down on the East Coast packing winds of more than 100 miles per hour and the very real potential for catastrophic flooding.

This should not surprise us, but it should serve as a reminder that there is not a bottom here. There is no depth that Trump will not explore in order to further his own narcissism and victimhood. There is no conspiracy he will not embrace -- or, in this case, start -- in order to improve his own personal brand or further his own political narrative.

Let's talk about the facts.

In late August, the Puerto Rican government acknowledged that the death toll from Hurricane Maria was 46 times higher than they had previously publicly acknowledged. It was not 64 people who lost their lives in the monster storm but somewhere closer to 3,000. The new estimate comes from a study conducted by the Milken Institute of Public Health at George Washington University, and commissioned by Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. CNN's own reporting reflects similar numbers.

Earlier this week, faced with the reports of the greatly expanded death toll, Trump insisted that he had done a terrific job in the country. "I actually think it was one of the best jobs that's ever been with respect to what this is all about," he told reporters.

That was bad enough, particularly given the fact that a) we are talking about peoples' lives here and b) another major hurricane was barreling toward the Carolinas even as Trump was touting his own performance after Hurricane Maria.

Now Trump has gone even further -- pivoting from merely defending his performance to embracing a conspiracy theory about the actual death toll from the hurricane and suggesting Democrats are secretly behind all of it. As evidence, he offers -- you guessed it! -- absolutely nothing.

Trump's twisted logic goes like this (I think): The governor of Puerto Rico -- Ricardo Rosselló -- is a Democrat. Democrats always are out to get me. When I was in Puerto Rico everything looked OK and not a lot of people died. So now Democrats are saying lots more people died -- including people with no connection to the hurricane!! -- just to make me look bad!

That line of "thought" confirms a lot we already know about Trump:

1) He is paranoid and often believes everyone who is not his staunchest ally is secretly plotting to "get" him.

2) He views everything through the lens of politics and party. Because Rosselló or San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who has criticized Trump's response, are Democrats, they must be willing to do whatever it takes to make the President look bad.

3) He makes everything -- including natural disasters -- about him.

That last point that, I think, is the most remarkable and frightening. To believe what Trump apparently does about the death toll from Hurricane Maria, you have to also believe that the governor of Puerto Rico commissioned a study from an independent group with the express purpose of embarrassing Trump. And that a respected center at George Washington University lied about their estimates of how many people died due to Maria solely to make Trump look bad.

That's an extraordinary level of narcissism. To exhibit that level of self-focus even as a handful of states are bracing for the potential of a disastrous weather event over the next 24-48 hours speaks to how all-consuming that narcissism is.

Not only did Trump think that the Puerto Rican government is unfairly laying thousands of deaths on him -- and even making up many of those deaths -- he felt strongly enough that he tweeted that idea to 54 million people amid an onrushing natural disaster that is already being felt on the North and South Carolina coasts.

It's absolutely staggering stuff. And what's even more appalling is that Trump allies will try to dismiss the criticism of his remarks as nothing more than a confirmation of Democrats' ill intent and the rabid anti-Trump bias of the news media.

Which, of course, it isn't. This is about the loss of human life and a President too obsessed with his own image and his own political considerations to understand that. Or to grasp how picking a fight about the death toll in the last major hurricane even as the next major hurricane begins to batter the United States is the definition of counter-productivity -- not to mention political insanity.

There is no rock bottom. There is no lowest point. The depths just always go deeper.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 36287

Reported Deaths: 1249
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds299254
DeSoto195920
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Jones122449
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Forrest103843
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Scott82415
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Sunflower5048
Monroe46135
Panola4546
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Simpson4433
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Tate39213
Attala38624
Newton37610
Adams35820
Pontotoc3556
Marion34512
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Pearl River30332
Winston30111
Chickasaw30019
Marshall2923
Jasper2816
Noxubee2799
Walthall2708
Clay26111
Union25412
Smith25212
Coahoma2306
Clarke22325
Lawrence2132
Yalobusha2089
Tallahatchie1954
Kemper18414
Carroll18211
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Calhoun1705
Humphreys16910
Hancock14813
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Tippah14611
Webster13411
Jefferson1283
Prentiss1274
Jefferson Davis1254
Tunica1253
George1233
Greene11610
Amite1123
Alcorn1072
Tishomingo1061
Quitman1011
Wilkinson989
Perry914
Stone772
Choctaw764
Franklin542
Sharkey480
Benton470
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 52908

Reported Deaths: 1093
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6746170
Mobile4904140
Montgomery4547112
Tuscaloosa269053
Madison22689
Marshall198011
Shelby169125
Lee159637
Morgan13385
Baldwin127711
Walker107532
Elmore106721
Etowah101114
Dallas10029
DeKalb9677
Franklin93816
Autauga69815
Russell6860
Unassigned67928
Chambers67730
Butler65229
Limestone6393
Tallapoosa63069
Cullman6156
Houston6077
Lauderdale5776
St. Clair5443
Calhoun5155
Colbert5096
Escambia4888
Lowndes48422
Pike4795
Jackson4352
Coffee4284
Covington41612
Talladega4017
Barbour3992
Dale3951
Bullock37810
Hale35423
Marengo35411
Chilton3312
Blount3201
Clarke3176
Wilcox3038
Winston2995
Sumter29213
Marion29014
Pickens2746
Randolph2639
Monroe2603
Perry2502
Conecuh2318
Bibb2241
Macon2199
Choctaw21712
Greene1989
Henry1553
Washington1488
Lawrence1360
Crenshaw1323
Cherokee1247
Geneva980
Lamar891
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