As he prepares for one natural disaster and tries to spin his way out of another, President Donald Trump, aides and friends say, is guided by a singular obsession: never to have a hurricane dubbed his “Katrina.”
That obsession became painfully evident this week as Trump, in the midst of preparing for Hurricane Florence’s landfall, took time on Thursday morning to trumpet post-facto justifications of the federal government’s response to Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island of Puerto Rico last year. In a series of tweets, he claimed—without any evidence—that the 3,000 or so deaths tied to that storm was an exaggerated count used by Democrats to make him look bad.
It read like a shocking bit of insensitivity from the White House just at the moment that it was preparing for another potentially deadly storm. But those familiar with Trump’s approach say he does in fact care about the widespread devastation and loss of life that resulted from Maria and could potentially result from Florence—if for no other reason than he also has an intense fixation on managing public perception of his performance in these moments.