Trump disputes estimate of Puerto Rico storm deaths

President Donald Trump, left, talks about Hurricane Florence during a briefing in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 11,

President Donald Trump, left, talks about Hurricane Florence during a briefing in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 11,

President Donald Trump speaks during a Congressional Medal of Honor Society Reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Se

President Donald Trump speaks during a Congressional Medal of Honor Society Reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Se

FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2017 file photo, Nestor Serrano walks on the upstairs floor of his home, where the walls were blown off, in the aftermath of

FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2017 file photo, Nestor Serrano walks on the upstairs floor of his home, where the walls were blown off, in the aftermath of

President Donald Trump, left, joined by FEMA Administrator Brock Long, second from left, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, center, spe

President Donald Trump, left, joined by FEMA Administrator Brock Long, second from left, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, center, spe

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is rejecting the official death count from Hurricane Maria and falsely accusing Democrats of inflating the Puerto Rican toll from the storm last year to make him "look as bad as possible."

And he did this as Hurricane Florence bore down on the U.S. on Thursday.

Public health experts have estimated that nearly 3,000 perished because of the effects of Maria. But Trump, whose efforts to help the island territory recover have been persistently criticized, was having none of that.

He said just six to 18 people had been reported dead when he visited two weeks after the storm and suggested that many had been added later "if a person died for any reason, like old age."