Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora has blasted President Donald Trump for disputing the Hurricane Maria death toll, calling his actions "disrespectful". But Trump, whose efforts to help the island territory recover have been persistently criticized, has repeatedly questioned that number over the last couple of days.
In a pair of tweets late Friday, Trump first quoted a Washington Post story, which recounted that he had been told only 16 people had died in the storm when he visited the island last September, shortly after Maria made landfall.
"I would never intentionally run a program incorrectly", he said.
"It's been done very efficiently and very well", he added, referencing the recovery efforts.
"I mean, at what point do you recognize that what they're doing is a political agenda, couched in the nice language of journalism?"
Almost every study and report into the hurricane estimates a significantly higher toll than the early official estimates mentioned by the president. "When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths", Trump wrote.
"If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them on to the list", he tweeted. This number included deaths that were indirectly related to the storm.
"My teams knew about it but first they will say, "no we cannot use them, ' months later water was no good for human consumption", he tweeted".
Flattened homes on the island of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Trump has come under increasing criticism as he insists that the estimated death toll of 3,000 people on Puerto Rico is incorrect and a lie meant to hurt him politically.
Jason Ortiz with the Connecticut Puerto Rican Agenda said he is also disgusted at the president for blaming the Democrats in his second tweet.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says it has spent billions of dollars in Puerto Rico, restoring power and helping with property repairs and a massive cleanup.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz called the president's comments "delusional, paranoid and unhinged from any sense of reality".
Gerald Herbert/APResidents line up gas cans as they wait for a gas truck to service an empty gas station, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Loiza, Puerto Rico, September 24, 2017.