Trump claims Maria death toll rose 'like magic'

Donald Trump says Hurricane Maria’s Puerto Rico death toll is a ploy to make him “look bad”

President Donald Trump speaks during a Congressional Medal of Honor Society reception in the East Room of the White House. Susan Walsh AP

With all attention on Hurricane Florence, Republicans are dealing with a separate, familiar kind of storm in the halls of Congress - one of the president's own making.

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Thursday that it was "disrespectful" for President Trump to refute an official report that raised the Puerto Rico death toll from last year's Hurricane Maria to almost 3,000 people while claiming that Democrats inflated the count. He's provided no evidence to support his tweets, declaring the revised toll a democratic plot to make him look bad. "He's the president of the United States, but I don't agree with a lot of what he says about us".

Mr Trump's tweets came as Hurricane Florence - a category two storm projected to bring catastrophic flooding - bore down on the US East Coast.

"After all the beef he's had, I feel like it was only a matter of time until he started a beef with dead people", Noah joked.

Trump reportedly insisted that blind people wouldn't be living there.

Throughout his presidency, Trump has struggled to publicly express empathy at times of national crises, sparking outrage during his post-Maria visit when he feuded with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz and tossed out paper towels to victims like he was shooting baskets. "It's an isolated island that lost its infrastructure and power for a long time, you couldn't get to people for a long time".

Some blamed the media. When pressed on the tweets, Cornyn grew frustrated. And like I said, hey man, thank you for helping us.

Some appeared to be working to calm the president down.

"This is a devastating storm that hit an isolated island. It's just what happened". Trump didn't think it was accurate. "Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!". I saw the punishing conditions on the island in the wake of Maria and experienced firsthand how those conditions can affect a person's health.

In August, George Washington University released a study estimating that 2,975 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria.

His comments run counter to how many locals and experts have assessed the federal government's response. "I don't know how they arrived at the information".

Even some Republicans suggested the president had gone too far.

On The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, the South African comedian said, "You see what the president doesn't seem to understand is that the effects of a hurricane last long after the storm has already passed, like the people on the Titanic, who froze in the water still died because of the crash".

Rarest of all was direct criticism. "I like Puerto Ricans who don't die!"

However Trump implied the death toll was revised for political reasons.

CNN columnist Chris Cillizza also slammed Trump's Thursday Twitter denials as "a new low".

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