Trump falsely accused Democrats on Thursday of inflating the Puerto Rican toll to make him "look as bad as possible".
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.
"We are scientists. We are public health people".
But instead I'm writing this ― fact-checking the president and pointing out a big problem that journalists face in the age of Trump. "Then, like magic, '3000 PEOPLE KILLED.' They hired..." This number included deaths that were indirectly related to the storm.
Stephen Colbert laid into President Donald Trump on The Late Show Thursday night after the commander in chief denied the death toll after the hurricanes in Puerto Rico as reported by his own government.
It found that 2,975 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria. While Puerto Ricans were still dying as a result of the hurricane - due to shortages of electricity and medical care - Trump informed the island's inhabitants that they should be grateful that his efforts had spared them from suffering a "real catastrophe like Katrina". "I don't know how they arrived at the information".
"I thought you all wanted to talk about the Kavanaugh nomination", he said. 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. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!".
Ahead of Florence striking the U.S. east coast, Mr Trump spoke with political leaders in the Carolinas and offered "whatever is needed", Sarah Sanders, the White House spokesman, said.
Almost a year after Hurricane Maria barreled across the Caribbean and devastated Puerto Rico, the island has become the focal point of a stormy political debate involving Congress and the White House over how the Trump Administration responded to the disaster. "Trump has been laser-focused on hurricane response this week, just not this one", says Colbert.
In Florida, which was badly hit by Hurricane Irma a year ago and which received thousands of Puerto Ricans fleeing the devastation of their homes, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis - who has built his campaign around his adherence to Trump's politics - tried to distance himself from the president's words.
This "issue" was not on my radar until one of my kids texted in a family chat: "Is trump off his rocker with this Puerto Rico death toll stuff?"
A massive emergency supply of bottled water that FEMA brought to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria leveled the island last summer still sits untouched on a sun-drenched airport runaway.
Puerto Rico's government is run by the New Progressive party, a pro-statehood, Puerto Rico-only party.