The Tribute in Light is illuminated on the skyline of lower Manhattan during events marking the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade...
Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Trump adds to his record of problematic 9/11 claims

Donald Trump spoke at the Pentagon this morning at a 9/11 observance ceremony, at which he reflected on his own memories from the attacks that occurred 18 years ago this morning.

“I was looking out of a window from a building in Midtown Manhattan, directly at the World Trade Center, when I saw a second plane, at a tremendous speed, go into the second tower. It was then that I realized the world was going to change. I was no longer going to be – and it could never, ever be – that innocent place that I thought it was.

“Soon after, I went down to Ground Zero with men who worked for me to try to help in any little way that we could.”

It’s difficult to accept these claims at face value, not only because there’s so little evidence of him “trying to help” at Ground Zero, and not only because Trump Tower is four miles from Ground Zero, but also because of Trump’s highly problematic track record on the issue.

As we discussed a few months ago, the day of the attacks, the future president seemed principally focused on how the destruction of the Twin Towers affected his ability to boast about the height of one of his nearby properties.

As a candidate in 2016, Trump frequently referenced the 9/11 attacks, though as the Washington Post reported at the time, “[S]everal of Trump’s statements about what he witnessed that day appear to be greatly exaggerated or false.”

That includes an incident in which the New York Republican claimed he helped clear rubble and search for survivors in the aftermath of the terrorism, and another incident in which he falsely said he watched people jump from the World Trade Center.

As a rule, lying about 9/11 is the sort of thing that can cause trouble for a politician, though Trump ended up winning anyway.

In July, Trump hosted a signing ceremony for a bill on the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, and after referencing grieving families and ailing first responders, who’ll benefit from the law, the president quickly turned his focus back to himself. “I was down there also,” Trump said, “but I’m not considering myself a first responder. But I was down there. I spent a lot of time down there with you.”

There’s no evidence to support the claim, and under the circumstances, it’s awfully tough to give him the benefit of the doubt.