Trump says Puerto Rico death toll inflated by Democrats: ‘3000 people did not die’

President Trump on Thursday accused Democrats, without evidence, of inflating the 3,000-person death count from last year’s hurricanes in Puerto Rico in order “to make me look bad.”

The stunning accusation is Trump’s latest attempt to defend his handling of natural disasters as Hurricane Florence bears down on the Southeastern U.S.

In a series of tweets, Trump disputed an independent report commissioned by Puerto Rico’s government that raised the death toll from Hurricane Maria to 2,975.

“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths,” Trump tweeted. “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.”

The president said the number was manufactured “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.”

“If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!” he added.

Trump’s latest comments drew an instant rebuke from San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who accused the president of minimizing the plight of Puerto Rico.

“This is what denial following neglect looks like: Mr Pres in the real world people died on your watch. YOUR LACK OF RESPECT IS APPALLING!” she tweeted.

As he prepares for Hurricane Florence, Trump has repeatedly argued that his response to Hurricane Maria was a success, despite the record-high death toll, widespread devastation and power outages and intense criticism from local officials.

The president warned Americans in Florence’s path to take precautions while meeting with federal officials to show his administration is ready for the potentially devastating storm.

But he has also made several remarks claiming he has not received proper credit for his response to Maria at a time when Puerto Ricans have given him very low marks for his handling of the storm.

A Washington Post–Kaiser Family Foundation study showed 80 percent of island residents disapprove of his response.

Trump’s claims fly in the face of a George Washington University study commissioned by Puerto Rico’s governor examining the effects of Maria in the six months following landfall in September 2017.

The long time period was used to determine the hurricane’s lingering effect on deaths on the island. It compared the death rates in the post-hurricane period to other periods not affected by natural disasters.

Puerto Rico’s government endorsed the results of the study once it was released and raised its official death toll, which previously sat at 64. Skeptics believed the number was too low, given that Maria resulted in widespread property damage and destroyed key infrastructure across the island.

Nonetheless, Trump has sought to convince Americans that his account of the hurricane response is correct.

“We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida (and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan). We are ready for the big one that is coming!” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

Those comments have reignited Trump’s feud with Puerto Rican officials, including Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, who has typically avoided confrontations with the president.
“No relationship between a colony and the federal government can ever be called ‘successful’ because Puerto Ricans lack certain inalienable rights enjoyed by our fellow Americans in the states,” Rosselló said in a Wednesday statement.
 
The governor also called on Trump to redouble federal assistance for recovery efforts so that the island can fully recover, calling Maria “the worst natural disaster in our modern history.”
 
Trump has struggled at playing the role of consoler-in-chief in times of national crisis. He drew criticism during his post-hurricane tour of Puerto Rico last October for throwing paper towels to people in a crowd and feuding with Cruz.
 
The president at the time downplayed the damage caused by Maria, saying it paled in comparison to a “real catastrophe” like Hurricane Katrina, which killed an estimated 1,800 people along the Gulf Coast in 2005. He also complained that federal relief efforts in Puerto Rico blew a hole in the federal budget.
“The missing part was empathy,” Trump’s former homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, said in an interview with The New York Times. “I wish he’d paused and expressed that, instead of just focusing on the response success.”
 
Hurricane Florence has weakened slightly from a Category 3 to Category 2 storm. But it is expected to cause widespread property damages, millions of power outages and possible loss of life in the Carolinas and Georgia.

[The Hill]

Trump Busted Tweeting Fake 9/11 Tribute After Users Spot Omarosa, Hope Hicks in Photo Taken Months Ago

President Donald Trump tweeted a photo Tuesday of the White House staff paying tribute to the victims of the 9/11 attacks – but users quickly noticed that the photo was taken months ago when a number of former aides were still on the staff.

“Departing Washington, D.C. to attend a Flight 93 September 11th Memorial Service in Shanksville, Pennsylvania with Melania,” Trump tweeted along with the photo, apparently purporting that the photo was taken Tuesday.

But users quickly spotted two former aides – Omarosa Manigault Newman and Hope Hicks – still on the staff, meaning the photo was taken last year.

The White House did hold a memorial ceremony Tuesday but Trump was nowhere to be seen. He had already skipped town to fly to Pennsylvania.

[Latest]

Despite massive death toll, Trump calls Puerto Rico hurricane response ‘an incredible, unsung success’

President Donald Trump touted his administration’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico as “an incredible, unsung success” during an Oval Office briefing on the upcoming hurricane bearing down on the Carolinas.

His comments run counter to how many locals and experts have assessed the federal government’s response.

“I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful,” Trump said, noting that the island location is “tough” during a hurricane due to the inability to transport vital equipment and supplies by truck. “It was one of the best jobs that’s ever been done with respect to what this is all about.”

Earlier this month, the island’s governor formally raised the death toll from the 2017 storm to an estimated 2,975 from 64 following a study conducted by researchers at George Washington University. The study accounted for Puerto Ricans who succumbed to the stifling heat and other aftereffects of the storm and had not been previously counted in official figures. Much of the US territory was without power for weeks.

Trump on Tuesday, alongside Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long, said the island’s electric grid had been already “in bad shape.”

The President praised the job FEMA and law enforcement did in Puerto Rico as “an incredible, unsung success.”

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who has been a vocal critic of the administration’s handling of the storm, has cast blame on the federal government for failing to provide adequate assistance in the aftermath of the storm, and slammed Trump’s assertion Tuesday.

“In a humanitarian crisis, you should not be grading yourself. You should not be just having a parade of self-accolades. You should never be content with everything we did. I’m not content with everything I did, I should have done more. We should all have done more,” Cruz told CNN’s Anderson Cooper later Tuesday evening.

She continued, “But the President continues to refuse to acknowledge his responsibility, and the problem is that if he didn’t acknowledge it in Puerto Rico, God bless the people of South Carolina and the people of North Carolina.”

Cruz said she spoke with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and Wilmington, North Carolina, Mayor Bill Saffo to “just (let) them know, we know how it feels.”

“We know how much they’re going to have ahead of them,” she said.

While the President has frequently praised the government response in the year since the hurricane, others in the administration have acknowledged learned lessons.

Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office released a report that revealed FEMA had been so overwhelmed with storms by the time Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico that more than half of the workers it was deploying to disasters were known to be unqualified for the jobs they were doing in the field.

And Long said FEMA had made changes to some of its priorities and procedures.
“We made a lot of changes in real time in addition to the high-level efforts that we learned through our after-action process. Bottom line is, we are concentrating on what we call critical lifelines — health, safety, security. You know, we’ve got food, shelter, health and medical, power and fuel, communications, transportation, hazardous waste,” he told reporters on a conference call on Hurricane Lane preparations last month.

Long continued: “We are hyper-focused on those seven critical lifelines because we realized last year that if any one of those lifelines goes down, then life safety is in jeopardy. And so we’re reorganizing the firepower of the federal government underneath these critical lifelines, we’re pushing forward.”

Trump said Tuesday that Tropical Storm Isaac, which had been downgraded from hurricane status overnight, currently poses a threat to Puerto Rico.

“We do not want to see Hurricane Isaac hit Puerto Rico,” he said.

[CNN]

Trump told Gary Cohn to ‘print money’ to lower the national debt

As a candidate, Donald Trump pledged to balance the federal budget and lower the national debt, promises that are proving difficult to keep.

Once he won, Trump considered an unusual approach that was quickly slapped down by his chief economic advisor, according to veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” which went on sale Tuesday.

“Just run the presses — print money,” Trump said, according to Woodward, during a discussion on the national debt with Gary Cohn, former director of the White House National Economic Council.

“You don’t get to do it that way,” Cohn said, according to Woodward. “We have huge deficits and they matter. The government doesn’t keep a balance sheet like that.”

Cohn was “astounded at Trump’s lack of basic understanding,” Woodward writes.

The vignette is one of many in the acclaimed investigative reporter’s book that describes a chaotic White House and a president being handled by top aides concerned by his behavior and decision-making.

Several people in Trump’s orbit have called the book’s accuracy into question, while Woodward has maintained several times that he stands by his reporting. In a note at the beginning of “Fear,” the author notes that the work “is drawn from hundreds of hours of interviews with first-hand participants and witnesses to these events.”

Cohn on Tuesday pushed back on the Woodward book. The former Goldman Sachs banker told Axios: “This book does not accurately portray my experience at the White House. I am proud of my service in the Trump Administration, and I continue to support the President and his economic agenda.”

Trump, meanwhile, has dismissed the book as a “scam” filled with “made up” quotes.

The president also floated an idea for making money from the recent rise in interest rates, according to Woodward.

“We should just go borrow a lot of money, hold it, and then sell it to make money,” Trump reportedly said.

The president also made clear that he was not pleased by the Federal Reserve’s current policy toward moving interest rates back to historical levels after suppressing them during the decade that followed the 2008 financial crisis. Cohn said he supported the Fed’s move to raise rates.

Trump then told Cohn that he wouldn’t pick him to be Fed chair, according to the book.

“That’s fine,” Cohn said, Woodward reports. “It’s the worst job in America.”

Trump chose Jerome Powell to succeed Janet Yellen as Fed chair. However, the president has criticized the Fed for raising rates while the economy surges.

“I’m not thrilled,” he told CNBC’s Joe Kernen in a July interview. “Because we go up and every time you go up they want to raise rates again. I don’t really — I am not happy about it. But at the same time I’m letting them do what they feel is best.”

[CNBC]

Trump begins 9/11 anniversary with angry early morning tweet about Russia and Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump began the 17th anniversary of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the US with an early morning tweet about Russia, law enforcement agencies and Hillary Clinton.

The post, which appeared to be a quote taken from Fox News, sought to perpetuate an argument – often used by supporters of the president – which seeks to shift focus from the investigation into his presidential campaign’s links to Russia on to unfounded speculation around the FBI, Department of Justice (DoJ) and his rival Ms Clinton.

“‘We have found nothing to show collusion between President Trump & Russia, absolutely zero, but every day we get more documentation showing collusion between the FBI & DOJ, the Hillary campaign, foreign spies & Russians, incredible’ @SaraCarterDC @LouDobbs,” Mr Trump wrote.

He followed up four minutes later with another post that retweeted his assistant Dan Scavino, with a picture of him signing an executive order designating “‘Patriot Day 2018’ to honor the memories of the nearly 3,000 lives lost on September 11, 2001”.

The US president included the hashtags #NeverForget and #September11.

Mr Trump next launched a renewed attack on the FBI and the DoJ, which he said were doing “nothing” to look into an alleged “media leak strategy” by two FBI agents investigating links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“Eric Holder could be running the Justice Department right now and it would be behaving no differently than it is,” Mr Trump continued, quoting one of his favourite Fox News presenters, Lou Dobbs.

Eric Holder is a former Democratic attorney general appointed by former president Barack Obama in 2009.

Mr Trump later tweeted in praise of his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was mayor of New York City at the time of the terrorist attacks.

“Rudy Giuliani did a GREAT job as Mayor of NYC during the period of September 11th. His leadership, bravery and skill must never be forgotten,” Mr Trump wrote. “Rudy is a TRUE WARRIOR!”

In 2013, three years before he became president, Mr Trump sparked anger after using the 9/11 anniversary to reference “haters and losers”.

“I would like to extend my best wishes to all, even the haters and losers, on this special date, September 11th,” he posted on Twitter.

It is just one of a litany of questionable comments the US president has made about 9/11.

On the day of the attacks, Mr Trump noted his skyscraper, at 40 Wall Street, went from being the second-tallest in downtown Manhattan to the tallest, following the collapse of the Twin Towers.

In 2015, Mr Trump claimed when talking about Muslims that “thousands of people were cheering” in Jersey City, situated across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan, as the towers fell. There is no evidence of mass celebrations there by Muslims.

Three months later, he said he lost “hundreds of friends” in the attack, but failed to provided any names, other than mentioning knowing a Roman Catholic priest who died while serving as a chaplain to the city fire department.

Despite Mr Trump’s apparent preoccupation into the Russia investigation, on Tuesday he visited a Pennsylvania field that became a 9/11 memorial.

Mr Trump and his wife, Melania, were due participate in a remembrance in Shanksville, where a California-bound commercial airliner crashed after the 40 passengers and crew members learned what was happening and attempted to regain control of the plane. Everyone on board was killed.

Nearly 3,000 people died on 9/11 when other planes were flown into New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon in an attack planned by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Nearly a decade later, bin Laden was killed in May 2011 during a US military operation ordered by Mr Obama.

Shortly before he was due to deliver a speech at Shanksville, Mr Trump tweeted: “17 years since September 11th!”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said of Mr Trump’s visit to Shanksville: “Certainly the focus will be on remembering that horrific day and remembering the lives that were lost, and certainly honouring the individuals who were not only lost that day, but also put their lives of the line to help in that process.”

Mr Trump was in his Trump Tower penthouse — 4 miles from the World Trade Center — during the 2001 attacks.

[The Independent]

Trump Uses Fake Quote to Slam Obama

President Donald Trump invented a quote to slam former President Barack Obama on Monday while touting his own economic achievements.

The quote that Trump attributed to Obama, however, does not appear to exist.

Obama referred to a magic wand at a PBS town hall in 2016, when criticizing Trump’s claims about bringing back jobs:

“Well, how exactly are you going to do that? What exactly are you going to do? There’s no answer to it. He just says, ‘Well, I’m going to negotiate a better deal.’ Well, what, how exactly are you going to negotiate that? What magic wand do you have? And usually the answer is, he doesn’t have an answer.”

Trump’s fabricated Obama quote appears to be based on a Fox News segment that aired a few minutes before his tweet. While discussing Obama’s effort to take credit for the strong economy under Trump, Washington Free Beacon writer Elizabeth Harrington said that during the 2016 election, Obama “said that Trump would need a magic wand to get to 4% growth.”

Obama’s comment actually referred to unemployment, not GDP growth.

[Mediaite]

Trump’s latest boast about the economy isn’t even close to accurate

President Donald Trump spent the morning bragging about the economy. At least one of his claims didn’t come close to being true.

“The GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years!” the president said in a tweet.

The first two numbers are correct, although they measure completely different things, and in different ways.
The overall US economy grew at a 4.2% annual rate in the second quarter. Unemployment was between 3.8% and 4% during the quarter, and it came in at 3.9% in August.

That’s all good news.
“It’s definitely better when it’s true than when it’s not,” said Justin Wolfers, professor of economics at University of Michigan. “I like high GDP growth and low unemployment.”

But Trump got it wrong — way wrong — when he said it hasn’t happened in a century.

In the last 70 years, it’s happened in at least 62 quarters, most recently in 2006.

“He wasn’t even in the neighborhood of right,” Wolfers said in an interview.

Wolfers tweeted a response to Trump’s claim. In fact, it took him two tweets to list all the quarters in which economic growth was higher than the unemployment rate. He added a chart.

“It certainly not a natural comparison,” Wolfers said. “I’ve never seen it made before. It’s not one that a macroeconomist would make. They’re not comparable.”

That’s not just because lower unemployment is better, while higher GDP is preferable.

The unemployment rate is a monthly reading on the percentage of people in the labor force who are looking for work. It is a snapshot of a current condition.

GDP is a reading of the output of the overall economy. When economists talk about GDP growth, they’re not talking about a snapshot of a current condition. They are measuring the change compared with a year earlier. Quarterly GDP growth is also adjusted to come up with the annual rate.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

[CNN]

Reality

This happened in 1941, 42, 43, 44, 48, 50, 51, 52, 53, 55, 59, 62, 64, 65, 66, 68, 72, 73, 98, 99, and 2000.

Trump Tweets ‘Thank You’ to Kim Jong Un After North Korean Military Para

President Donald Trump sent his thanks to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday after the country made changes to its military parade in Pyongyang.

North Korea celebrated its 70-year anniversary on Sunday with a show of its military strength but strayed from the traditional display of the country’s intercontinental missiles. The parade instead featured floats and flowers as Kim chose to focus on building economic power.

Trump, who met with Kim for a denuclearization summit in Singapore in June, tweeted his gratitude to the North Korean dictator on Sunday.

“This is a big and very positive statement from North Korea,” Trump tweeted. “Thank you To Chairman Kim. We will both prove everyone wrong! There is nothing like good dialogue from two people that like each other! Much better than before I took office.”

Kim spent the parade with a special envoy from China and other foreign visitors, Reuters reported. The North Korean leader spoke to Chinese parliament chief Li Zhanshu about building economic growth and said he hopes to learn from China.

The parade came only two weeks after Trump announced that he was canceling Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s diplomatic trip to North Korea. The president tweeted the news on Aug. 24, explaining, “I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Kim said at the parade that he has taken steps toward denuclearization and planned to uphold the peace resolution, according to Reuters, which cited a Chinese state television report.

[Huffington Post]

Trump knocks NFL over first game’s ratings

President Trump in a tweet on Sunday knocked the NFL over lower ratings for its first game of the season.

“Wow, NFL first game ratings are way down over an already really bad last year comparison,” the president said, referring to last Thursday night’s match-up between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. “Viewership declined 13%, the lowest in over a decade.”

“If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back? Otherwise worse!” he added.

Broadcast viewership for the game dropped by 13 percent, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The game also saw a 61 percent spike in online streaming viewership, the news outlet added.

Trump renewed his clash with the NFL after it released a statement Tuesday praising former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for raising social justice issues.

“The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action,” NFL’s executive vice president of communications and public affairs Jocelyn Moore said in the statement following Nike’s decision to feature Kaepernick, who was the first to kneel during the national anthem, in a new ad campaign.

Kaepernick, who became a free agent at the end of the 2016 season, rose back to national prominence after Nike made him the face of its “Just Do It” ad campaign.

The move has met some controversy, both from the president, conservative legislators and some members of the general public, the majority of whom disapprove of kneeling during the national anthem, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last month.

However, online sales also surged following Nike’s announcement of the campaign.

ESPN also reported Sunday that the NFL will not implement a policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem this season.

None of the players in the first NFL game of the season appeared to kneel during the anthem.

[The Hill]

Trump: Now Ford can build Focus in U.S.; Ford: That makes no sense

Auto analysts groaned on Sunday in response to tweets sent by President Trump that touted his tariffs on Chinese imports and his claim that the trade war would inspire Ford Motor Co. to build its Ford Active crossover in the U.S. rather than overseas.

Wrong, Ford said.

The Dearborn-based company issued a statement in response to the president’s tweet:

“It would not be profitable to build the Focus Active in the U.S. given an expected annual sales volume of fewer than 50,000 units and its competitive segment. Ford is proud to employ more U.S. hourly workers and build more vehicles in the U.S. than any other automaker.”

Jon Gabrielsen, a market economist who advises automakers and auto suppliers, said, “This is further evidence that neither the president nor his trade representatives have any clue of the complexities of global supply chains.”

A trade war actually hurts one of America’s most iconic companies, Gabrielsen said. “This forces Ford to forfeit the sales they would have had if they could continue to import that low-volume niche vehicle.”

Ford on Aug. 31 canceled plans to import the Focus Active crossover from China to the United States because of costs from the escalating trade war.

“Given the negative financial impact of the new tariffs, we’ve decided to not import this vehicle from China,” Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford North America, told reporters.

The Focus Active was meant to take the place of the Ford Focus in the U.S. because Ford is phasing out the entry-level car as it shifts its production to pickups and SUVs. Focus Active was scheduled to go on sale in the late summer of 2019.

“Basically, this boils down to how we deploy our resources. Any program that we’re working on requires resources — engineering resources, capital resources,” Galhotra said. “Our resources could be better deployed at this stage.”

Tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump on Chinese products and the threat of more had a direct impact on the Aug. 31 decision, according to Ford officials. The United States already has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from China and, as of July, put a 25 percent tax on autos imported from China.

“Ford was pretty clear in its statement: Focus production will not shift in part or in whole back to the U.S.,” said Stephanie Brinley, a senior analyst at London-based IHS Markit.

Trump didn’t tweet about the Ford announcement at the time. On Sunday, he quoted the CNBC TV network and tweeted, “‘Ford has abruptly killed a plan to sell a Chinese-made small vehicle in the U.S. because of the prospect of higher U.S. Tariffs.'” CNBC. This is just the beginning. This car can now be BUILT IN THE U.S.A. and Ford will pay no tariffs.”

“Ford is one of the companies that has the highest U.S. content and the most U.S. autoworkers of any company,” said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of the Industry, Labor & Economics Group at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

“You know, their statement was very clear. It’s too costly to build that car here and they weren’t planning to. They don’t make business decisions based on tweets. They make decisions based on whether there’s a demand here for the vehicle and if it can be done profitably. Demand for small cars is waning, so they thought they would build some for the rest of the world and bring a few for folks here who want one,” Dziczek said.

Building the car may still be the plan, but not in the U.S., she emphasized, along with other analysts. At issue is finding low-wage production sites to maintain profit margins, and that doesn’t include the U.S. or Canada.

“This trade thing turns into Whac-A-Mole,” Dziczek said. “You can shut off China and things will come from India, Thailand, Taiwan, Poland, Slovenia. There are loads of low-cost countries for parts and vehicles.”

After touting his tariff plan, the president also cited tariff data that alarmed analysts.

“If the U.S. sells a car into China, there is a tax of 25%. If China sells a car into the U.S., there is a tax of 2%. Does anybody think that is FAIR? The days of the U.S. being ripped-off by other nations is OVER!”

Wrong again, Dziczek said. “China lowered the tariff rate from 25 percent to 15 percent for most-favored nation status — which is offered to World Trade Organization members — but raised it to 40 percent for the U.S. in retaliation to the tariffs we put on Chinese goods.”

She continued, “And the tariffs we charge for goods coming into the U.S. is 2.5 percent, not 2 percent. And then we put an additional 25 percent on cars coming from China into the U.S. So now they’re paying 27.5 percent. This is why Ford had to re-evaluate.”

American automakers ship about 250,000 vehicles a year from the U.S. to China, while China ships about 50,000 vehicles to the U.S. annually, Dziczek noted.

For example, every Buick Envision sold in the U.S. is made in China. General Motors has petitioned that the car be excluded from tariffs on Chinese-built products.

Ford spokesman Mark Truby emphasized Sunday that the company plans to build many new vehicles in America. “For example, we are starting production soon of the Ford Ranger in the factory just outside of Detroit where the Focus was previously built. We’re not defensive about building in America. Nobody does more than us. We also have to make a business case that works.”

[Detroit Free Press]

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