FEMA Boss Backs Trump’s Puerto Rico Death Denials: “I Don’t Know Why the Studies Were Done.”

Brock Long makes a bizarre segue to “spousal abuse” to defend the president.

As Hurricane Florence continues to savage the Carolinas, FEMA Administrator Brock Long on Sunday defended the president in undermining academic studies tying thousands of deaths to last September’s hurricane in Puerto Rico. The studies were “all over the place,” said Long in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I don’t know why the studies were done.” 

A George Washington University study found that 2,975 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria—a number that Donald Trump has repeatedly denied on Twitter over the past week, characterizing the death toll as a conspiracy by “Democrats” to “make me look as bad as possible.”

Long explained, “What we’ve got to do is figure out why people die from direct deaths, which is the wind, the water and the waves, buildings collapsing.” He added that FEMA doesn’t count deaths, but relies on counts from local county coroners. “You might see more deaths indirectly occur as time goes on because people have heart attacks due to stress,” he said. “They fall off their house trying to fix their roof, they die in car crashes because they went through an intersection where the step lights weren’t working.”

Long also noted that “all kinds of studies” have found that “spousal abuse goes through the roof” after natural disasters. “You can’t blame spousal abuse after a disaster on anybody.”

Long also defended himself amid allegations that he misused federal vehicles in contravention of departmental rules. Long vowed to stay on in his role while a federal watchdog investigates. “I’m here to serve my country every day. That’s all I do,” he said. “And when it’s over, whenever it ends, I’m ready to go back home, love my family.”

The Trump Administration’s Puerto Rico denials are continuing in the devastating wake of Hurricane Florence, which has so far claimed at least 14 lives—a number officials expect to rise. 

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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