Donald Trump claimed today that Democrats inflated the number of people who died in Puerto Rico from the effects of Hurricane Maria to make "me look as bad as possible".
Let's be clear about this -- the denial of the deaths attributed by the Puerto Rican government and multiple independent assessments by Hurricane Maria is akin to Holocaust denial. It is a moral disgrace and the president should be asked to resign to save the dignity of the office he holds. As my colleague Bob Cesca tweeted today:
Had Obama said anything remotely similar, he would have been forced to leave the White House in disgrace. No president in history would have been able to get away with this, but because the Republican Party refuses to hold Donald Trump to account for anything, he will face no consequences whatsoever.
"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico," tweeted Trump today. "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."
"This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico," he continued. "If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!"
Puerto Rico's governor Ricardo Rosselló officially raised the death toll from Hurricane Maria from 64 to 2,975 from 64 following a study conducted by researchers at The George Washington University. CNN's reporting show similar numbers, as does a Harvard Study that points to an even higher death toll (4,645).
No members of the Democratic party were involved in gathering the data, and the governor of Puerto Rico has been adamant that the numbers he is standing by has nothing to do with politics.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum defines Holocaust denial as follows (bold emphasis ours):
Holocaust denial is an attempt to negate the established facts of the Nazi genocide of European Jewry. Holocaust denial and distortion are forms of antisemitism. They are generally motivated by hatred of Jews and build on the claim that the Holocaust was invented or exaggerated by Jews as part of a plot to advance Jewish interests.
Compare this to Donald Trump's views on the huge death toll in Puerto Rico (many of which could have been prevented had his administration taken the catastrophic event seriously) and it isn't hard to see the similarities:
Trump, like a Holocaust denier, is attempting to negate the established facts of the Puerto Rican tragedy. His denial and distortion is, like a Holocaust denier, clearly more evidence of his views on Latinos and other non-white ethnic groups, and is likely motivated by hatred. Like a Holocaust denier, his denial is built on the claim that the tragedy was invented or exaggerated by liberals and Democrats to advance their interests.
It would be hard for the president to sink lower than this, but it always pays never to underestimate how Trump he will go to demean himself and the office he represents.
(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)