Nothing is above politics when it comes to Donald Trump, not even the death of hundreds on an island colonized by the United States. In a couple of insulting tweets fired off on Thursday morning, the president decided to make the absurd claim that the death toll following Hurricane Maria is being overestimated as a plot of the democratic party in order to make him look bad.
As the Associated Press puts it, Trump tweeted this “without evidence.”
The number of deaths reported in Puerto Rico has fluctuated since Hurricane Maria hit nearly a year ago, but multiple sources have agreed it’s well over a thousand, and that many of those deaths are the result of inadequate aid to the island in the storm’s aftermath. The official study Trump is referring to is a non-partisan report by The George Washington University that estimates the island's death toll is about 2,975 compared to the 64 deaths originally reported.
While Trump may be claiming the hurricane only took a dozen or so lives as it hit the island, CNN’s Jake Tapper accurately points out that the death toll of a storm includes the deaths in its aftermath. After the storm, 1.4 million people lost electricity, which was a key factor in the number of deaths after the hurricane.
Examples of FEMA’s horrible response to the storm have surfaced in the past few months, including an airstrip of millions of water bottles meant to go to citizens that were found sitting in a field almost a year later.
And as Hurricane Florence made its way to the Carolinas, news broke over the weekend that instead of bolstering FEMA’s funds following a year of especially tragic natural disasters, the federal government under the direction of Trump took nearly $10 million from the emergency organization and transferred it to ICE in his efforts to terrorize immigrants.
Trump continues to claim the response to Maria was "successful," but residents and politicians continue to push back.
"In a humanitarian crisis, you should not be grading yourself. You should not be just having a parade of self-accolades. You should never be content with everything we did. I'm not content with everything I did, I should have done more. We should all have done more," San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín told CNN on Tuesday. "But the President continues to refuse to acknowledge his responsibility, and the problem is that if he didn't acknowledge it in Puerto Rico, God bless the people of South Carolina and the people of North Carolina."