Trump tweeted at 7:05 p.m. Friday, about four hours after the first reported deaths from Florence were announced, that he visited Puerto Rico last October and was told by officials on the island that 16 people had died. Then, a long time later, they began to report large numbers, like 3000...,' one tweet reads.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday falsely accused Democrats of inflating the death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico previous year, rejecting a government assessment that the storm had claimed almost 3,000 lives. Researchers used what they called a "state-of-the-art mathematical model", which Trump misrepresented - wrongly saying the study counted deaths "for any reason, like old age".
Earlier this month, Puerto Rico's governor officially raised the death toll from Hurricane Maria from 64 to 2,975.
"Mr. President- I'd very much be willing to walk you through the scientific process of the study and how [George Washington University] arrived at the excess mortality number estimate", he tweeted.
Hurricane Florence's winds and rain begin lashing Carolinas
The latest forecast models for Hurricane Florence indicate it is now likely to dump rain on parts of NY and CT early next week. Parts of the Carolinas could see 50 cm to 76 cm, with isolated areas getting 101 cm, over seven days along the coast.
"This is what denial following neglect looks like", declared San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz in response to Trump's tweets. The study found that those in low-income areas, and elderly men, were at greatest risk of dying as parts of the island remained without power and electricity for months after the storm. Patt Kessler's Reality Check takes us through the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.
He then included Fox Business Lou Dobb's response slamming the "corrupt" Puerto Rican governments: "The people of Puerto Rico have one of the most corrupt governments in our country".
Political officials from both sides of the aisle condemned the president's statements and said they believed the death toll. Many Puerto Ricans who fled from Maria relocated in Florida, a crucial swing state central to the president's election and Republican control of Congress.
"I wish he'd paused and expressed that, instead of just focusing on the response success", Bossert said.
The president's comments came as the government prepared for Hurricane Florence, whose high winds were already beginning to batter the coast of the Carolinas.