That’s the background when the governor of Puerto Rico tapped George Washington University’s school of public health to do another excess-mortality survey. Like all such studies, it’s based on assumptions and guesswork — in this case assumptions complicated by the outward migration of tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans to the mainland after the hurricane. That said, I know of no evidence that would undermine its estimate of 2,975 excess deaths.
So back to Trump. Although the president has no evidence this was a Democratic Party plot, his skepticism is understandable, even healthy. It’s how journalists are supposed to think.
That’s the part Trump gets right. The part he gets wrong is the much bigger issue: Our government’s response to Hurricane Maria was inadequate. That’s the view all over Puerto Rico, and I think it’s self-evidently true. Whether 100 people died needlessly in the aftermath of the 2017 storm season or whether the number is 3,000, the president missed an opportunity he will never get back. Nor will those who suffered.