In fighting back against reports that he mocked a New York Times reporter with disabilities, Republican presidential contender Donald Trump claims that he did not poke fun at the journalist’s physical features — in fact, he says doesn’t remember meeting the guy, so how could he have? And for all his troubles, Trump is demanding that The Times issue him an apology.
Instead, The Times is calling Trump out on his ignorance.
The award-winning veteran reporter in question, Serge Kovalski, said he has not only known Trump for decades, but that he’s interviewed the celebrity real estate mogul enough times over the years to claim a familiar rapport.
“Donald and I were on a first-name basis for years,” Kovaleski said in an interview with The Times. “I’ve interviewed him in his office … I’ve talked to him at press conferences. All in all, I would say around a dozen times, I’ve interacted with him as a reporter while I was at The Daily News.”
The latest skirmish has spun off from yet another campaign controversy. It began on Saturday, when Trump claimed that “thousands and thousands” of people were seen cheering in New Jersey after seeing the World Trade Center buildings crumble in the 9/11 attacks. Trump pointed to an article written by Kovaleski, who worked for The Washington Post at the time, as evidence to support his claims. The incident Trump referenced has since been widely discredited. And after Kovaleski — as well as numerous officials — refuted the unconfirmed reports in the story that Trump is clinging onto, the candidate turned his attack on the reporter, who has a disability that limits the range of motion in his arms.
“Now, the poor guy,” Trump said of Kovaleski, “you’ve got to see this guy.” He then scrunched his arms, seemingly to mimic Kovaleski. “‘Ah, I don’t know what I said! I don’t remember!’”
A spokesperson for The Times called Trump’s actions “outrageous,” while Kovelski said he wasn’t surprised to see the party’s front-runner stoop to a new low.
Trump, for his part, insists that he was merely acting out the part of a flustered reporter. “I have no idea who this reporter, Serge Kovalski [sic] is, what he looks like or his level of intelligence,” Trump said in a statement released Thursday. He added: “Despite having one of the all-time great memories I certainly do not remember him.”