Much of the nation’s attention turned yesterday morning to the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, but given that the anniversary falls in the midst of a presidential campaign, it also served as a reminder of Donald Trump’s 9/11 problems.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Donald Trump called a New York television station to share what he had seen from his skyscraper apartment and what he had heard from associates closer to the World Trade Center. At one point during the nearly 10-minute interview, Trump mentioned that his building in the Financial District was now the tallest.“Forty Wall St. actually was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and it was, actually, before the World Trade Center, was the tallest,” Trump said in an interview with WWOR-TV in New York when asked whether his building had been damaged. “And then when they built the World Trade Center, it became known as the second-tallest, and now it’s the tallest.”
Yes, because even on 9/11 itself, Donald Trump was focused on how the deadliest terrorist attack in American history relates to Donald Trump.
Alan Marcus, who was working that day for WWOR as an on-air analyst, told Politico that Trump “is the brand manager of Trump, and he is going to tout that brand, and he does it reflexively…. Even on that day.”
The Washington Post’s report added, “Trump frequently invokes 9/11 on the campaign trail, especially in defense of his proposal to temporarily ban the entry of Muslims and others from countries ‘compromised’ by terrorism…. But several of Trump’s statements about what he witnessed that day appear to be greatly exaggerated or false.”
And if that were the end of Trump’s controversies related to 9/11, it would be problematic. But the story actually gets worse.
Back in May, we discussed a post-9/11 economic program, designed to help enterprises around Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks. Though the money was intended to help small businesses, Trump took advantage of unenforced guidelines to receive $150,000 in taxpayer money.
The New York Daily News had a follow-up report over the weekend:
Donald Trump’s tale about why he took $150,000 in 9/11 money is as tall as the Downtown skyscraper he says he used in recovery efforts, according to government records.Though the billionaire presidential candidate has repeatedly suggested he got that money for helping others out after the attacks, documents obtained by the Daily News show that Trump’s account was just a huge lie.
Trump has defended receiving the money because, according to his version of events, he let tenants stay in his building after the attacks. Patting himself on the back in the spring, Trump claimed, “I was happy to do it and to this day I am still being thanked for the many people I helped. The value of what I did was far greater than the money talked about.”
But now those claims are facing new scrutiny, with the Daily News reporting, “Records from the Empire State Development Corp., which administered the recovery program, show that Trump’s company asked for those funds for ‘rent loss,’ ‘cleanup’ and ‘repair’ – not to recuperate money lost in helping people.”
And let’s also not overlook the fact that Trump has allied himself with fringe media personality Alex Jones – a 9/11 “truther.”
In a normal campaign, these seem like the sort of details that might do irreparable harm to a candidate for national office. In 2016, Trump’s support will almost certainly remain unaffected.