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Trump Goes to Puerto Rico

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Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, President Trump came to the island with bizarre comments and paper towels.

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DONALD TRUMP: Now, I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that’s fine. We’ve saved a lot of lives.

AARON MATÉ: Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, President Trump has made his first visit to the island. After joking there about the budget, Trump compared the death toll from Maria to Hurricane Katrina.

DONALD TRUMP: If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overpowering. Nobody’s ever seen anything like this. Now, what is your death count as of this moment? 17?

AARON MATÉ: 16.

DONALD TRUMP: 16 people certified, 16 people versus in the thousands. You can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together. 16 versus literally thousands of people.

AARON MATÉ: The Katrina toll was actually less than 2,000. Trump also appears to suggest that Maria is not a real catastrophe. And while the official death toll is 16, the number is expected to rise. At least 30 people are still reported missing. As part of his trip, Trump was also filmed tossing rolls of paper towels into a crowd. The paper towel giveaway comes as days after Trump made another gesture of the people of Puerto Rico.

DONALD TRUMP: On behalf of all of the people of Texas and all of the people of, if you look today and see what is happening, how horrible it is but we have it under really great control. Puerto Rico and the people of Florida, who have really suffered over this last short period of time with the hurricanes, I want to just remember them. And we’re going to dedicate this trophy to all of those people that went through so much that we love, a part of our great state, really a part of our great nation.

AARON MATÉ: Puerto Rico’s needs are dire. The entire power system is damaged, leaving 3.4 million people in the dark. The vast majority of the island’s 69 hospitals were without power for a week. More than one million people still don’t have access to clean water. But even before Maria, Puerto Rico was in crisis. The island has over $70 billion of debt. An unelected control board appointed by Washington runs its finances. The board has responded to Maria by slowing rolling back some of the austerity measures it imposed before but there’s a lot more to be done. And despite what Trump says, it’s not happening so far.