Donald Trump is now playing defense on another front – this time about what he claims to have seen on 9/11.
At a campaign event on Saturday in Birmingham, Alabama, Trump told the crowd that on September 11, 2001, “I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands of thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.”
In an interview Sunday morning with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, Trump defended his remarks despite Stephanopoulos calling those claims Internet rumors that police say never happened.
Trump shot back speaking over Stephanopoulos, “It did happen, I saw it. It was on television, I saw it.”
“There were people that [sic] were cheering in [sic] the other side of New Jersey where you have large Arab populations,” Trump declared. “They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down.”
Trump then speculated that the ABC host may not want to talk about those events because it’s not politically correct. The New York Times notes that, while video of some people cheering in Middle Eastern countries was seen on American televisions on 9/11, there is no evidence at all that any Muslims – let alone “thousands and thousands – were celebrating in New Jersey on that day.
A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ibrahim Hooper, told BuzzFeed News on Sunday that Trump was “either mistaken or lying.”
Raising the specter of another event like the 9/11 terror attacks, the Republican front-runner told ABC that without proper monitoring of American Muslims we could see “buildings coming down all over New York City and elsewhere.”
During his Sunday interview, the real estate mogul turned candidate also defended his comments that Muslims in America should be tracked with a database and a watch list - a stance that Trump has been clarifying and defending since an interview on November 19th with Yahoo! News.
Later when speaking with NBC News, Trump was more explicit on the idea of tracking Muslims with a database saying that was something he “would certainly implement.”