In light of the recent Harvard study showing that Hurricane Maria’s death toll in Puerto Rico was nearly 75 times higher than official government totals, it is worth revisiting President Donald Trump’s remarks in the aftermath of the devastation – particularly as he has yet to publicly acknowledge the Harvard study’s findings.
With the exception of the 1900 hurricane that wiped out Galveston, Texas, Maria killed more Americans than any other disaster on record, including the Chicago fire and the San Francisco earthquake. It killed more people than the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Trump has not commented publicly on the study. In fact, he hasn’t tweeted about Puerto Rico in seven months. But his statements about the island in the immediate aftermath of the storm are worth revisiting in light of the new numbers.
Trump insisted that much credit be ushered his way regarding the federal government’s response to Maria but also indicated numerous times it was not his job to fix the island’s problems – which Trump pointed out several times were essentially preexisting conditions:
Nevertheless, the president needed the world to know how more-than-adequate his administration’s response to the disaster was and how thankful the people of Puerto Rico were for his actions:
And Trump topped off his self-praise with video to prove he handled the situation flawlessly:
Thirteen years ago, Hurricane Katrina turned “heckuva job”—a stray comment from President George W. Bush about his FEMA director, Michael Brown—into a generation-defining gaffe. Trump said the same thing about himself, and we’ve hardly talked about it since.