When the official death toll in Puerto Rico from the devastation of Hurrican Maria was 16 people in October 2017, President Donald Trump touted the figure as evidence of how much more effective his administration’s response to the tragedy was compared to Hurricane Katrina under President George W. Bush.
But new numbers released Thursday reveal how wildly inaccurate the original death toll was. The Puerto Rican government now says at least 1,427 people were killed in the hurricane — though some independent estimates have placed the number much higher than that.
As CNN’s Chris Cuomo argued Thursday night, Trump’s response to the calamity was both inadequate — as FEMA now admits — and shameful.
“Sixteen never made sense, neither did 64 — not if you were on the ground like we were, and so many at CNN and other outlets. So much of Puerto Rico was shut down, medical care was compromised, medications were in short supply, basic water was spotty, there was power almost nowhere,” he said. “So we were skeptical. And we pressed, and we tested power. And Trump and his folk fought back, calling it, well, you know what they called it: Fake news.”
Trump claimed that his administration was doing an “amazing job” in Puerto Rico, even as more than a thousand people were dying.
“Shame on him,” Cuomo said. “Especially as reporting and studies showed what we all expected: The death toll was way, way wrong and underreported. … So what does the president say now? Nothing. He doubled down when he thought he was right, but now he won’t man up now that we know he was wrong. He won’t even show respect to Americans who lost loved ones.”
Watch the clip below:
Trump owes the truth – the truth he denied – to the people who paid with their lives and those who were left in horrible conditions until today. #CuomoPrimeTime #LetsGetAfterIt #CPT pic.twitter.com/Dm16qmcUYR
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) August 10, 2018