The White House on Thursday defended President Donald Trump's earlier tweets claiming Democrats had inflated the death toll stemming from Hurricane Maria last year, saying he was "responding to the liberal media and San Juan Mayor [Carmen Yulîn Cruz] who sadly, have tried to exploit the devastation by pushing out a constant stream of misinformation and false accusations."
Trump set off a social media firestorm when he denied Puerto Rico's official death toll figure from Hurricane Maria. According to the government of Puerto Rico, an estimated 2,975 people died as a result of the hurricane.
"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico," Trump tweeted Thursday morning. "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 . . ."
Trump then continued via Twitter: ". . . 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!”
Cruz slammed the president, writing on Twitter: "This is what denial following neglect looks like: Mr Pres in the real world people died on your watch. YOUR LACK OF RESPECT IS APPALLING!"
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