The Latest: Paul Ryan rejects Trump’s claim death toll wrong

The Latest: Paul Ryan rejects Trump’s claim death toll wrong

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s claim that 3,000 people did not die because of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year (all times local):

11:20 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is rejecting President Donald Trump’s assertion an official government death toll for last year’s hurricane in Puerto Rico is wrong.

The Wisconsin Republican says he has “no reason to dispute” a study that found nearly 3,000 people on the island died from Hurricane Maria last year.

Trump on Thursday tweeted “3,000 people did not die” in Puerto Rico and called the death count a move by Democrats to make him look bad.

Ryan denies the figure reflects poorly on Trump, saying, “casualties don’t make a person look bad.”

Trump’s tweets came as the Carolinas braced for Hurricane Florence, which could drench the homes of up to 10 million people.

The mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital says Trump is “delusional, paranoid, and unhinged from any sense of reality.”

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11 a.m.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello says in a Facebook video post in Spanish that there should no more questions about the number of deaths from Hurricane Maria and the process used to arrive at that number.

He says, “the victims of Puerto Rico, and the people of Puerto Rico in general, do not deserve to be questioned about their pain.” Rossello says, “It’s not a time to fight, to have political noise, to use these things for the benefit of one party or another. It is time to remember all those who lost their lives. It is time to acknowledge their pain and the sacrifice that everyone has made in the name of recovery.”

Rossello says he accepted as the official death toll an independent analysis that nearly 3,000 died in Puerto Rico from the September 2017 storm. He says the process was “carried out properly.”

Trump on Thursday rejected that figure, arguing without evidence that the number was wrong and calling it a plot by Democrats to make him “look as bad as possible.”

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10:30 a.m.

The mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital says President Donald Trump is “delusional” for rejecting the official conclusion 2,975 people died on the island because of Hurricane Maria.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz fired off several tweets targeting Trump after Trump said “3,000 people did not die” and called the death count a move by Democrats to make him look bad.

Cruz tweeted Thursday, “Simply put: delusional, paranoid, and unhinged from any sense of reality. Trump is so vain he thinks this is about him. NO IT IS NOT.” She also tweeted, “Damn it: this is NOT about politics this was always about SAVING LIVES.”

The feud between Cruz and Trump goes back to when the Category 4 storm hit last Sept. 20. Cruz maintains the federal government’s response was slow and inadequate. Trump says it was a success.

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9:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump is rejecting the widely accepted death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria, claiming without citing evidence that “3,000 people did not die.” Trump called the count a move by Democrats to make him look bad.

Trump tweeted Thursday as Hurricane Florence bears down on the Carolinas. He said: “When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…”

Puerto Rico’s governor raised the U.S. territory’s official death toll from Hurricane Maria from 64 to 2,975 after an independent study found the number of people who succumbed in the aftermath had been severely undercounted.