Sep 13, 2018 - Science

What they're saying: Politicians trash Trump's Hurricane Maria tweet

President Trump waving in Puerto Rico

President Trump visits Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Photo: Joe Raedle via Getty Images

President Trump set off a social media firestorm Thursday after claiming, without evidence, that Democrats had inflated the Puerto Rican death toll stemming from last year's Hurricane Maria.

The big picture: The death toll estimate, the product of a George Washington University study that was commissioned by the Puerto Rican government, was a conservative one. And lawmakers were not shy about calling out the president for his baseless claim.

What they're saying:

  • San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz: "Mr. Trump, you can try and bully us with your tweets, BUT WE KNOW OUR LIVES MATTER. You will never take away our self respect. Shame on you! ... Damn it: this is NOT about politics, this was always about SAVING LIVES."
  • Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.): "You’re right, Mr. President. The Hurricane didn’t kill 3,000 people. Your botched response did."
  • Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.): "This isn’t about you and it isn’t a political game. Nearly 3,000 Americans died in Puerto Rico. We need answers not heartless attempts to duck responsibility."
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.): "@realDonaldTrump prefers his 'alternative facts' to the tragedy faced by families of the lost. Worse still, the GOP is determined to shield his insulting behavior from accountability. It’s time for Republicans in Congress to get back to performing our crucial oversight function."
  • Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.): "This is what your math looks like when you count black or brown lives less than white lives."
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.): "Your comments display an ignorance as large as the storm itself. The death toll was due to a lack of access to potable water and power, and because the nation failed to bring a sense of urgency to the relief effort commensurate with the size of the disaster — and still has."
  • Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.): "Casualties don’t make a person look bad, so I have no reason to dispute these numbers."
  • Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.): "I disagree with @POTUS– an independent study said thousands were lost and Gov. Rosselló agreed. I've been to Puerto Rico 7 times & saw devastation firsthand. The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching. I'll continue to help PR."
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