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President Donald Trump has yet to comment on a devastating new study published by Harvard researchers this week estimating that 4,645 people died in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria—more than 72 times what the Trump administration has officially acknowledged. The new death toll marks what may be the country’s deadliest natural disaster in 100 years.
But while Trump remains silent on the study, he’s still bragging about the government’s response.
“Last season during the hurricanes—I was in Texas, I was in Florida, I was in Puerto Rico—I saw the work you did under the most adverse conditions,” Trump said at the change-of-command ceremony for the US Coast Guard on Friday. “I’ve said this to a lot of people: I don’t think any brand has gained more momentum or has gained more of anything than the brand of the United States Coast Guard.”
TRUMP: “During the hurricanes I was in Texas, I was in Puerto Rico, I saw the work you did under the most adverse conditions & I’ve said — I don’t think any brand has gained more momentum or has gained more of anything than the brand of the United States Coast Guard.” #brands pic.twitter.com/NP2VNlyGf1
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 1, 2018
As my colleague Tim Murphy noted earlier this week, during the hurricane and its aftermath, Trump vacillated between blaming Puerto Rico for an “impossible situation” and demanding that the media shower praise on his emergency response efforts.
Puerto Rico is devastated. Phone system, electric grid many roads, gone. FEMA and First Responders are amazing. Governor said “great job!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 29, 2017