President Trump late Friday renewed his claim that Puerto Rico’s death toll from Hurricane Maria was doctored, even after receiving widespread criticism for casting doubt on the deaths of nearly 3,000 people. Citing a Washington Post report that mentioned the fact that Puerto Rican officials initially told Trump only 16 people had died in the hurricane, the president questioned how the death toll then climbed to 64. “Then, like magic, ‘3000 PEOPLE KILLED,’” he tweeted. “They hired GWU Research to tell them how many people had died in Puerto Rico (how would they not know this?). This method was never done with previous hurricanes because other jurisdictions know how many people were killed. FIFTY TIMES LAST ORIGINAL NUMBER - NO WAY!” he wrote. Trump’s comments came after researchers at George Washington University who estimated that 2,597 people had died issued a statement earlier this week standing by that number, calling it “the most accurate and unbiased estimate of excess mortality to date.” Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott and gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis both also rejected Trump’s claim, saying they believe the death toll given by researchers.
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