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President Donald Trump attends a briefing with senior military personnel and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello. Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

A day after the Puerto Rican governor raised Hurricane Maria's death toll to 2,975 — higher than Hurricane Katrina — President Donald Trump defended his administration's storm response, saying it did "a fantastic job."

Why this matters: Trump has continued to come under criticism for responding too slowly and inadequately to the Category 4 storm, which knocked out the entire island's power grid and caused a humanitarian disaster. If the revised death count is correct, it would make Hurricane Maria one of the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history.

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Wednesday, Trump also claimed the island had lost power before the storm struck on September 20, 2017.

"Don't forget their electric plant was dead before the hurricane. If you look back on your records you'll see that the plant was dead, it was shut, it was bankrupt, it was out of business... And then when the hurricane came people said what are we going to do about electricity. That wasn't really the hurricane, that was gone before the hurricane."

Be smart: While the island's power authority was in dire financial straits prior to the storm, the grid was functioning, having escaped major damage from Hurricane Irma in the weeks before.

Go deeper

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

13 hours ago - Economy & Business

CNN fires Chris Cuomo

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN

CNN said Saturday evening it has fired one of its star anchors, Chris Cuomo, following new revelations from a legal review made by the company into Cuomo's involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Why it matters: Saturday's firing speaks to how much pressure CNN was under by employees and critics to address Cuomo's behavior.

Updated 14 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.