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Trump Conspiracy Theory On Puerto Rico Hurricane Death Toll

by Ace Damon
Trump pushes conspiracy theory denying Puerto Rico hurricane death toll

President Trump pushed a new conspiracy theory that the hurricane death counts in Puerto Rico are false.“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico,” tweeted Trump 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. 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!”RELATED: Hundreds of shoes form memorial in Puerto Rico

Shoes are displayed at the Capitol to pay tribute to Hurricane Maria’s victims after a research team led by Harvard University estimated that 4,645 people lost their lives, a number not confirmed by the government, in San Juan, Puerto Rico

People stand among hundreds of pairs of shoes displayed at the Capitol to pay tribute to Hurricane Maria’s victims after a research team led by Harvard University estimated that 4,645 people lost their lives, a number not confirmed by the government, in San Juan, Puerto Rico June 1, 2018.

People look at hundreds of pairs of shoes displayed at the Capitol to pay tribute to Hurricane Maria’s victims after a research team led by Harvard University estimated that 4,645 people lost their lives, a number not confirmed by the government, in San Juan, Puerto Rico June 1, 2018.

A Puerto Rican flag is seen on a pair of shoes as hundreds of pairs of shoes displayed at the Capitol to pay tribute to Hurricane Maria’s victims after a research team led by Harvard University estimated that 4,645 people lost their lives, a number not confirmed by the government, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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A plant sits inside an empty pair of shoes outside the Capitol building during a protest against the government’s reporting of the death toll from Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Friday, June 1, 2018. Hurricane Maria probably killed about 5,000 people in Puerto Rico last year even though the official count remains at just 64, according to a Harvard University study released Tuesday.

A demonstrator places a candle next to empty pairs of shoes displayed outside the Capitol building during a protest against the government’s reporting of the death toll from Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Friday, June 1, 2018. Hurricane Maria probably killed about 5,000 people in Puerto Rico last year even though the official count remains at just 64, according to a Harvard University study released Tuesday.

Hurricane Maria, which pummeled Puerto Rico in September 2017, is likely responsible for the deaths of more than 4,600 people, some 70 times more than official estimates, US researchers said Tuesday.

ding to a Harvard University study released Tuesday. Photographer: Xavier Garcia/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A sign reads ‘4645 Souls’ near pairs of empty shoes displayed outside the Capitol building during a protest against the government’s reporting of the death toll from Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Friday, June 1, 2018. Empty pairs of baby shoes hang on display outside the Capitol building during a protest against the government’s reporting of the death toll from Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Friday, June 1, 2018. Hurricane Maria probably killed about 5,000 people in Puerto Rico last year even against the official count at just 64.

The official Hurricane Maria death toll per the Puerto Rican government is 2,975, revised up in August from the initial 64. That number is less than a Harvard study released in May, which put the number at 4,645. Either number would make Maria, which hit last September, the deadliest natural disaster in the United States in over a century.

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Trump’s theory that few people had died when he left the island is false. There were contemporaneous reports from the ground that funeral homes were overcrowded and further reporting months later that people were still dying due to the slow response. Earlier this week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., released a letter from the FEMA director that stated more than 2,000 Puerto Ricans applied for funeral assistance in the wake of the hurricane. The agency approved just 75.

Trump has eschewed any blame for the slow response to the island and the death of hundreds if not thousands of Americans, blaming Puerto Rico’s electrical grid. He initially said it was not a “real catastrophe” like Hurricane Katrina and urged Puerto Ricans not to believe the stories they were hearing.

The federal response to the storm has been criticized, particularly in contrast to the relief effort in Texas following Hurricane Harvey. Earlier this week Trump said the Puerto Rican response was “incredibly successful” and “one of the best jobs that’s ever been done.” He has cited the difficulty of moving things to an island that is 1,150 miles from the coast of Florida. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz was one of many critics of Trump’s death toll theory.

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