In a tweet on Thursday morning, Trump claimed 3,000 people didn’t die in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and accused Democrats of inflating the death toll to make him “look as bad as possible,” rejecting the findings of a government-funded study in the process.
“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico,” he said. “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…”
He then added: “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!”
A study commissioned by the Puerto Rico government that was released in August found that 2,975 people died in the wake of the storm.
Trump has been widely criticized for his response to Hurricane Maria, particularly by San Juan Mayor Carmin Yulín Cruz.
In response to Trump’s claims on Thursday, Cruz tweeted, “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!”