U.S. House Speaker Ryan doesn't dispute Puerto Rico death toll

Photos Reveal Massive Stockpile of Water Left on Tarmac in Puerto Rico for Nearly a Year While Hurricane Maria Victims Suffered

President Donald Trump has been "overly criticized" for his response to the deadly storm that struck Puerto Rico a year ago, but neither the president nor his critics should be politicizing the tragedy, Rep. Chris Stewart said. Ryan noted he had been in Puerto Rico after the hurricane hit and said it had been "devastating". Some Puerto Ricans are still without power.

George Washington University researchers are standing by their study that concluded the death toll following Hurricane Maria was 2,975.

In a pair of tweets Thursday, Trump accused Democrats of inflating the number to make him look bad.

The study, which was conducted without the backing of any political group, surveyed 3,000 residences across the United States' territory and found Puerto Ricans died at a much higher rate in the four months following the hurricane than in the same time period a year earlier. "Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers". If a person died for any given reason, such as old age, just add them to the list.

The White House, while describing any death from the hurricane as "a horror", sought to defend Trump's handling of the disaster, saying he had "directed the entire administration to provide unprecedented support to Puerto Rico". Harvard's report, which was based on systematic household surveys throughout Puerto Rico, reached a estimate of 4,645 storm-related deaths between September and December 2017, many as a result of "delayed or interrupted health care". Then came Maria and devastation in Puerto Rico, where a slow federal response was complicated by logistical concerns and preexisting economic and infrastructure deficiencies on the island territory. We've seen conflicting information associated with the process of coming up with a realistic accounting of how many people died during and after the storm.

Members of both parties on Capitol Hill disagreed with the president's statements.

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello also has criticized Trump for not providing additional federal funds still needed for emergency housing and debris removal.

He claimed the Democrats were behind the figure in order to politically discredit him.

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A top FEMA official defended the agency after a photo revealed millions of water bottles the agency had positioned on the island sitting on a runway a year after Hurricane Maria knocked out critical supply chains.

Rosselló told CNN on Thursday that the Puerto Rican government is "confident" in the results of the study and that he has no reason to believe the estimate was part of an effort by Democrats to undermine the President. "We're not able to say that now", Goldman told CNN late last month.

George Washington University stood by the science behind its findings, calling the figure of 2,975 deaths "the most accurate and unbiased estimate of excess mortality to date".

"The aftereffects, people don't talk about that", he said.

With his comments on Thursday, Trump didn't just kick a hornets nest - instead, he bludgeoned it with a barbed-wire baseball bat and outrage exploded across Twitter.

"To be tweeting about 3,000 people and be efficient, it's actually disrespectful for my country", said Cora, a former player from Caguas, about 20 miles south of San Juan.

No one suggests that Trump was primarily responsible for the deaths in Puerto Rico.

Separating from Trump on the issue might be more vital for Scott and DeSantis, as Democrats tried to tether them to the Republican president.

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