Following President Trump's baseless assertion Thursday that the death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was inflated by Democrats in order to make him look bad, White House aides are trying their best to ignore the outrage.
A new report from Politico on Friday notes that most White House officials have declined to provide on-the-record comments about the tweet. Aides are additionally hoping that news coverage of Hurricane Florence will overshadow what the president said,
The report notes that White House aides increasingly feel that it's pointless to try to prevent Trump from making bombastic Twitter statements, so the new strategy is to simply ignore them and hope the media moves on to the next story. The Washington Post also reports that Trump's advisers were "baffled" by the tweet.
Since Trump's statement, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley offered a slight defense, saying that while "every death from Hurricane Maria is a horror," the "liberal media" has attempted to exploit the tragedy with "a constant stream of misinformation and false accusations," per CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins.
But Gidley did not specifically affirm Trump's claim that the independent study, which concluded that nearly 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria, is wrong. Sam Stein, a reporter for The Daily Beast, said Thursday that he asked the White House three times to clarify whether they were disputing the findings of the study, but they would not provide a response. Brendan Morrow