It looked as if Donald Trump’s bizarre lie about 9/11 had run its course, but the Republican presidential campaign apparently wants to keep the discussion going a little longer – even throwing in a conspiratorial twist.
To briefly recap, the GOP frontrunner insists he saw news reports from 9/11 that Trump believes show “thousands and thousands” of Jersey City residents of Middle Eastern descent cheering when the Twin Towers fell. Those reports do not exist, but that hasn’t stopped Trump from repeating the claim, over and over again, in recent days.
Team Trump has had multiple opportunities to walk this back. As TPM noted, it’s instead doing the opposite.
Donald Trump’s campaign manager on Tuesday accused the media of coordinating an elaborate conspiracy to deny the billionaire’s claim that “thousands and thousands” of New Jersey residents cheered the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.“For the mainstream media to go out and say that this didn’t happen is just factually inaccurate,” Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said in an interview with Breitbart News. “We know it happened.”
Right Wing Watch posted the audio of Lewandowski’s comments, in which he pretends fiction is fact.
Trump’s special counsel, Michael Cohen, added on CNN yesterday that his client’s numbers may be off, but that shouldn’t matter. “Whether it’s ‘thousands and thousands’ or a thousand people or even just one person, it’s irrelevant,” he argued, adding, “What’s important is that there are bad people among us.”
Except, that doesn’t make any sense. Trump has argued, repeatedly, that he saw video footage of thousands of people in New Jersey celebrating a devastating terrorist attack. Now his lawyer is saying it could have been one guy and we shouldn’t be too picky about the details, while his campaign manager continues to insist the imaginary video exists, even if no one can find it, and this is all part of a conspiracy to help elect an “establishment candidate,” who’ll be “controlled by the special interests.”
All of this is seen as necessary, of course, to justify Trump’s vision of registering Muslim Americans and spying on houses of worship.
Ben Carson, who endorsed Trump’s bogus claim before changing his mind a few hours later, is also trying to blame news organizations. Politico reported yesterday:
Ben Carson continued to walk back his assertion on Monday night that, like Donald Trump, he also saw video footage of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11, blaming the media in the process for having “an agenda.”“Well what we were talking about was the reaction of Muslims after the 9/11 attack, and if they were in a celebratory mood,” the retired neurosurgeon and current Republican candidate told Fox News’ “The Kelly File.” “And you know, I was really focusing on that it was an inappropriate thing to do, no matter where they were. They asked me: Did I see the film? I did see the film. I don’t know where they were, but I did see a film of Muslims celebrating. And I was making the point that it was inappropriate.”
He added that reporters “had an agenda” when they asked about this on Monday.
For the record, here’s the exact transcript Carson is referring to:
Q: Dr. Carson, were American Muslims in New Jersey cheering on 9/11 when the towers fell = did you hear about that or see that?
Q: Yes. Can you expand on that?
Carson: Well, you know, there are going to be people who respond inappropriately to virtually everything. I think that was an inappropriate response. I don’t know if on the basis of that you can say all Muslims are bad people. I really think that would be a stretch.
Q: But did you see that happening though on 9/11?
Carson: I saw the film of it, yes.
Q: In New Jersey?
His staff said a few hours later that Carson was actually referring to video footage from the Middle East, and as of yesterday, the candidate himself is eager to blame the media.