Trump reportedly talked about everything but Puerto Rico deaths in FEMA meeting


President Donald Trump avoided talk of hurricanes during what was supposed to have been a meeting on disaster preparedness Wednesday, holding forth on everything but a significantly increased estimate of deaths in Puerto Rico linked to Hurricane Maria, The Washington Post reported.

Leaked audio from the 40-minute meeting at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters captured Trump musing about the cost of purchasing military equipment, attacking California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom, praising Foxconn for building a factory in Wisconsin and attempting to reassure his Cabinet members that they were very popular.

While speaking to the cameras for about 15 minutes, Trump briefly mentioned Puerto Rico and states hit by disasters, but didn’t address the recent Harvard study that estimated nearly 5,000 deaths on the island may be linked to Maria. The government’s official death toll from the storm was 64.

Trump did, however, thank FEMA officials and Cabinet members for their response to last year’s hurricane season.

“We really appreciate the job you’ve done. I want to thank you very much,” he said.

RELATED: Melania Trump makes first public appearance in weeks at FEMA meeting

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Melania Trump makes first public appearance since kidney surgery
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Melania Trump makes first public appearance since kidney surgery
U.S. first lady Melania Trump appears with President Donald Trump at a public event for the first time in almost a month during a hurricane response briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Washington, U.S., June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. first lady Melania Trump is framed by cameras filming her as she appears with President Donald Trump at a public event for the first time in almost a month during a hurricane response briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Washington, U.S., June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. first lady Melania Trump returns to the White House with President Donald Trump after a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which was their first joint appearance in public in almost a month, in Washington, U.S., June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. first lady Melania Trump stands between Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump as the president speaks to the staff on a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during their first joint appearance in public in almost a month in Washington, U.S., June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. first lady Melania Trump appears with President Donald Trump at a public event for the first time in almost a month during a hurricane response briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Washington, U.S., June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. first lady Melania Trump appears with President Donald Trump at a public event for the first time in almost a month during a hurricane response briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Washington, U.S., June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. first lady Melania Trump appears with President Donald Trump at a public event for the first time in almost a month at a hurricane response briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Washington, U.S., June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 6: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attend the 2018 Hurricane Briefing at the FEMA headquarters on June 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Yuri Gripas - Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 6: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to employees during a visit with first lady Melania Trump at the National Response Coordination Center inside the FEMA headquarters on June 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Yuri Gripas - Pool/Getty Images)
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The Trump administration has been heavily criticized for its response to the storm. On Wednesday, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus called for a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Puerto Rico death toll. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) said the federal response is Trump’s “most significant failure.”

Trump has in the past downplayed the effects of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, saying it wasn’t a “real catastrophe” like Hurricane Katrina in 2005. More than 1,800 deaths in the Gulf Coast area were directly or indirectly related to Hurricane Katrina.

More on the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria

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Hurricane Maria destroyed village's only bridge to the outside world
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Hurricane Maria destroyed village's only bridge to the outside world
Ana Maria Jimenez, 89, lays on a bed after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge and the surrounding areas, in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Dariana Baez, holds her one-month-old niece Amalia Garcia at her house after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge and the surrounding areas, in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 5, 2017 REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A local resident carries a gasoline can as he crosses a river using a cable after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Local residents try to fix a truck after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge and the surrounding areas, in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
An America flag is seen after Hurricane Maria hit San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A boy looks at his neighbourhood after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge and the surrounding areas, in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A damaged house is seen after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge and the surrounding areas, in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Ismael Rivera stands at his damaged house after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A local resident carries a box of food as he walks along the side of a river after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Carmen Rodrigues stands by her bedridden mother, Rosa Maria Torres, 95, after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 5, 2017. The family are trying to get Torres airlifted out of the town. "If they don't move her out of here, she's going to die," said Carmen Santos, Torres' granddaughter. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Ismael Rivera stands at his damaged house after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Ramon Sostre, stands in front of his damaged house after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Haydee Mestre looks inside her refrigerator after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge and the surrounding areas, in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Local residents cross a river using a cable after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A general view of San Lorenzo after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge in Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A local resident takes a bath in a river after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A local resident washes her hair at a pond after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Local residents stand by a bridge which was destroyed by Hurricane Maria in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Local residents walk along a road after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge and the surrounding areas, in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Ruth Santiago refreshes herself with water from a pipe after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Local residents walk in a river after Hurricane Maria destroyed the town's bridge in San Lorenzo, Morovis, Puerto Rico, October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez SEARCH "BAEZ LORENZO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
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The White House didn’t immediately answer HuffPost’s request for comment.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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