In a second tweet Thursday, Trump cast blame on Democrats, who he said are trying to make him look bad. Instead, he argued, without providing evidence, that the death toll was a Democratic claim to make him look bad. "But if you want to get into Puerto Rico from the standpoint of what needs to happen next, you've got to fix aging infrastructure that wasn't ready to support the commonwealth before that storm hit, and when they were blown out it exponentially causes problems on the back end". As time went by, it did not go up by that much. "Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000", he wrote.
Researchers attributed undercounting of storm-related deaths to poor communications and the lack of well-established guidelines and training for physicians on how to certify deaths in major disasters.
The congressman argued that Republicans should have done more to investigate the federal response in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to find out why so many were "left without power, clean water, health care, and other basic services for months afterward".
"He's talking about the one a year ago, because he's been tweeting a lot about what a great job he did responding to Hurricane Maria, that decimated Puerto Rico last year", Colbert said. Puerto Ricans are a key potential voting bloc in Florida's closely contested elections. August 27 brought on an official statement from the Puerto Rican government which read that 2,975 people died, a number based on a study performed by the George Washington University.
"What we saw in Puerto Rico was a mass death of 3,000 people".
FILE - Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello speaks during a press conference regarding the number of estimated deaths in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aug. 28, 2018.
And House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said, "I have no reason to dispute these numbers".
The Trump administration has faced other scrutiny over its handling of last year's hurricanes in recent months.
Trump's comments come as Hurricane Florence, now a category 2 storm, hurtles towards the Carolina coast, threatening millions in its path.