As Hurricane Florence Makes Landfall, Trump Tweets Support to First Responders

President Trump speaks to members of the media following a briefing on Hurricane Florence in the Oval Office on Tuesday

During his opening "Late Show" monologue Thursday night, Stephen Colbert took on President Trump's astonishing-even by Trump standards-tweets about the 2017 hurricane-related death toll in Puerto Rico.

Earlier this month, the island's governor formally raised the death toll from Hurricane Maria to an estimated 2,975 from 64 following a study conducted by researchers at The George Washington University. One thing's for sure, and I told (the media) before, one thing I'm proud, we're standing up on our own two feet.

Are these the worst tweets to have ever been tweeted by Trump... so far? "His tweet suggesting it was as low as six by the time he left makes clear that he is not interested in presenting an accurate picture of the effects of the storm on the island", Bump wrote.

Trump said there were "6 to 18 deaths" shortly after the storm hit Puerto Rico in 2017.

Two of Florida's top Republicans on Thursday distanced themselves from President Donald Trump's false claim that Hurricane Maria did not kill almost 3,000 people in Puerto Rico previous year, despite an estimate accepted by the island's government.

"That's the official death toll, you lunatic", the NBC star said, explaining it was an independent study - which you can read right here - commissioned by Puerto Rico.

"When was it on Hurricane Maria that the people started [dying], was it when the power went out?" In seeking to assure Americans that his government is prepared for the storm, Trump has also tried to defend his administration's response to Hurricane Maria, calling it an "unsung success".

In a statement, the GSA Administrator for Puerto Rico, Ottmar Chávez, said FEMA "reported that it had an excess of bottled water in May 2018, before I became the agency's administrator".

Ron DeSantis also disagreed with Trump's unsubstantial claims of an inflated death toll.

He was criticised for treating a visit to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the hurricane like a rally, mimicking a basketball player as he threw paper towels to Puerto Rican residents at a local relief centre.

The tweets were a political grenade for Florida Republicans, who have traveled to Puerto Rico, sought endorsements from the island's officials and otherwise worked continually to court the Puerto Rican vote for November.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of SC, who talks to Trump often, said, "I don't think it's bad to say we could have done better in Puerto Rico".

"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico".

Rossello is a leader of the island's pro-statehood New Progressive Party, which aligns with Republicans, while Cruz is from the Popular Democratic Party, whose members affiliate with the Democratic Party.

Last month, I returned to Puerto Rico to follow up on recovery efforts.

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