Democrats pushed back fiercely Thursday against President Donald Trump's denials on Hurricane Maria's death toll last year, while Republicans emphasized the president was not indifferent to Puerto Rico's plight.
"President Donald Trump prefers his 'alternative facts' to the tragedy faced by families of the lost," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said on Twitter. "Worse still, the GOP is determined to shield his insulting behavior from accountability."
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a possible 2020 challenger, raged in her own seven-tweet rant: "This is a flat-out lie.
"The Puerto Rican government raised the official death toll to 2,975 people after multiple, credible estimates," she said.
In posts earlier Thursday, Trump rejected the official Maria death toll — determined by George Washington University — and accused Democrats of inflating the figures "to make me look as bad as possible.
"Bad politics," the president said in a second tweet. "I love Puerto Rico."
However, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin told reporters at his weekly briefing: "Casualties don't make a person look bad.
"I have no reason to dispute these numbers.
"I was in Puerto Rico after the hurricane. It was devastating," he added. "This was a horrible storm — and casualties mounted for a long time.
"I have no reason to dispute those numbers."
South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham defended Trump.
"I don’t buy the idea that the president is indifferent to our friends in Puerto Rico," he told ABC News.
Still, New York Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano charged that the deaths in his native Puerto Rico "were under Trump's watch and could have been prevented with a quicker and a better federal response."
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, also of New York, offered Trump this advice: "Stop the shameful attack on deceased fellow Americans and focus on the response to Hurricane Florence."
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