ANALYSIS: Trump disrespected Hurricane Maria victims to score political points

UPDATE — 9/15, 2:42 p.m. EDT: President Trump doubled down late Friday on his original comments questioning the official Puerto Rican death toll from Hurricane Maria in 2017.

George Washington University issued a statement earlier this week saying they are “confident that the number — 2,975 — is the most accurate and unbiased estimate of excess mortality to date.”

 

As the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria approaches, the coming days may have been filled with remembrance and lamentation for those who lost their lives in Puerto Rio. Many have instead become filled with anger and strife as citizens are embroiled over President Trump’s recent comments about the hurricane’s official death count and his administration’s response to the disaster.

On Thursday, Trump turned the 2017 tragedy into a partisan controversy and opportunity for self promotion by denying an estimated 3,000 perished as a result — a number obtained by a recent George Washington University study.

Immediately Trump’s comments garnered attention from Puerto Ricans, most notably San Juan Mayor Carmen Cruz, who tweeted: “Damn it: this is NOT about politics this was always about saving lives.”

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, a member of the island’s New Progressive Party, also responded, stating:

“The victims of Puerto Rico and the people of Puerto Rico in general, don’t deserve to have their pain questioned.”

Democrats were also highly critical.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, (D-Mass.) stated the president’s claim was “a flat-out lie,” while Sen. Bob Menendez, (D-N.J.) tweeted: “You’re right, Mr. President. The Hurricane didn’t kill 3,000 people. Your botched response did.”

Elected Republican officials also denounced Trump’s comments, including Florida politicians like Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Ron DeSantis, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott, as well as House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“Everything is so personal for (Trump) and he just wants to always spin a good story, but using the deaths of Puerto Rican hurricane victims might be a new low, and boy, that’s saying something,” said Ros-Lehtinen.

Not surprisingly, it took the White House over 10 hours to respond to the public relations fall-out.

“President Trump was responding to the liberal media and the San Juan Mayor who sadly, have tried to exploit the devastation by pushing out a constant stream of misinformation and false accusations,” Spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

The president’s latest commentary on Puerto Rico is merely just an indication of his amorality and narcissism. Even in an event of tragedy and loss, Trump found a way to make it about himself and the success of his presidency.

In reality it is not Democrats smearing Trump’s legacy, but rather the president himself.

 

[NBC News] [The Hill] [Politico] [Photo courtesy AFP/Getty Images via BBC]