Tapper slams Trump's death toll lies: 'Puerto Ricans are Americans too'


Trump's shameful conspiracy-mongering about the death toll in Puerto Rico earned him a harsh rebuke from a respected journalist.

After Trump spent a good portion of his week lying about the death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria last year, CNN's Jake Tapper reminded Trump that he's supposed to represent all Americans — including Puerto Ricans.

On Sunday morning's edition of CNN's "State of the Union," Tapper capped off the show with a powerful commentary calling out Trump's insulting lies denying that 3,000 people died as a result of Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

Trump "seems to think that the real victim is him" in the disaster, Tapper said.

Tapper also said Trump is "combining a few of his favorite things" with his false claim about the death toll: "blaming the Democrats, tending to the needs of his ego and reputation, and carelessly spreading conspiracy theories without ever issuing a fraction of proof to back up what he's saying."

As Tapper noted, Trump has been telling lies like this "for years." Trump promoted the racist "birther" lie about President Barack Obama, falsely claimed that "thousands" of Muslims in New Jersey were celebrating as the Twin Towers came down, suggested that Ted Cruz's father was involved in the JFK assassination, and falsely claimed that millions of undocumented immigrants voted against him.

The list of Trump's lies goes "on, and on, and on," Tapper said. "And now, in the middle of another deadly storm, he blithely dismisses the Puerto Rico death toll, and takes an undeserved victory lap around an island that is still suffering."

Tapper concluded with a powerful reminder: "On election night, Mr. Trump pledged to be a president for all Americans. Puerto Ricans are Americans, too, Mr. President."

Trump was initially silent when the Puerto Rican government updated its official estimated death toll from the hurricane to 2,975 people.

But this week, as Hurricane Florence approached, Trump took to bragging about the “fantastic job” he did with the response in Puerto Rico, even going so far as to call his handling of the tragedy “an incredible, unsung success" and an “unappreciated great job."

And on Sunday, FEMA administrator Brock Long took to several of the Sunday shows to defend Trump by dissembling about the death tolls from the storms in Puerto Rico, and refusing to contradict Trump's claims that the studies estimating the death toll were somehow politically motivated.

Trump and his defenders are more than willing to politicize the deaths of Americans, but the free press will always be there to tell the truths that need to be told — even seemingly obvious truths like "Puerto Ricans are Americans, too."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.