Trump claims Maria death toll rose ‘like magic’


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had always been planning to convene a press conference Friday to talk about the ongoing recovery needs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands a year after two hurricanes hit the American territories.

Hurricane Maria lashed out on Puerto Rico in late 2017, killing a reported estimate of 3,000 people and depleting this United States of America territory of its resources. Researchers used what they called a "state-of-the-art mathematical model", which Trump misrepresented - wrongly saying the study counted deaths "for any reason, like old age". "As time went by it did not go up by much", he says, with zero evidence.

Nerybelle Perez holds a picture of her father, World War II veteran Efrain Perez, who died inside an ambulance after being turned away from the largest public hospital when it had no electricity or water, days after Hurricane Maria passed, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, June 7, 2018.

President Donald Trump again lashed out about the nearly 3,000 deaths attributed to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico a year ago, questioning the science behind the count even as Hurricane Florence pummeled the Carolina coasts.

In a separate tweet, Trump accused the Democratic Party for inflating the reported official death toll from Hurricane Maria.

Trump earned some heavy criticism for those remarks, including from the outspoken mayor of the capital San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, on Tuesday night.

Then came Maria and devastation in Puerto Rico, where a slow federal response was complicated by logistical concerns and preexisting economic and infrastructure deficiencies on the island territory. "And I can not fathom the thought that the greatest nation in the world can not figure out the logistics for a small island of 100 miles by 35 miles", she said.

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"I mean, at what point do you recognize that what they're doing is a political agenda, couched in the nice language of journalism?"

The death toll from Maria, the most powerful storm to hit there in nearly a century, was raised last month from 64, a number widely discounted as far too low, to 2,975.

Gov. Rick Scott, who in 2016 led a super PAC supporting Trump but this year has been edging away from him as he runs for the Senate, put out an even more direct repudiation.

One of those joining Pelosi was Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), the first Puerto Rican woman to be elected to Congress. Previous reports from the Puerto Rican government said the number was closer to 1,400.

"President Trump, to this day, has not acknowledged, not only the lack of resources and slow response time, but the continued issues in Puerto Rico", said Soto, a Democrat whose district covers a part of metro Orlando. "We have a moral obligation to do better, not only to finish the job in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, but to prevent the same type of inadequate response from ever happening again".

"We stand by the science underlying our study", the statement said.

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello also has criticized Trump for not providing additional federal funds still needed for emergency housing and debris removal.