President Donald Trump insisted on Wednesday that his administration had brilliantly handled Hurricane Maria and its aftermath, just a day after Puerto Rico’s governor officially raised the death toll from the storm from 64 to 2,975,
“I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico,” Trump declared, in response to a question on the exponential rise in the storm’s death toll. “We’re still helping Puerto Rico. The governor is an excellent guy and he’s very happy with the job we’ve done.”
Trump then went on to brag about spending “billions and billions of dollars” on the island, adding that “it was a very tough one.”
He then proceeded to essentially say that the catastrophic devastation his administration conspicuously ignored and mismanaged following the storm was entirely not his fault (emphasis mine):
Don’t forget that their electric plant was dead before their hurricane. If you look back on your records you’ll see that that plant was dead, it was shut, it was bankrupt, it was out of business. The owed tremendous amounts of money, they had it closed up, and then when the hurricane came people said: “what are we gonna do about electricity?” That wasn’t really the hurricane—that was gone before the hurricane. But we’ve put a lot of money and a lot of effort into Puerto Rico. And I think most of the people in Puerto Rico really appreciate what we’ve done.
Tuesday’s revised death toll makes Hurricane Maria’s landfall in Puerto Rico one of America’s worst natural disasters in a century—something Trump has spent a year denying, starting with his disastrous press conference while visiting the island this past October, when he gloated that the island had avoided Hurricane Katrina-like casualties.