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Posted: September 11, 2017

Critique: How President Trump has talked about 9/11 then and now

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, flanked by White House staff, place their hands over their hearts on the South Lawn of the White House during the playing of
Win McNamee/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, flanked by White House staff, place their hands over their hearts on the South Lawn of the White House during the playing of "Taps" at a ceremony marking the September 11 attacks September 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 16th anniversary of the attacks that killed almost 3,000 people and wounded another 6,000. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

By Patrick McMahon,

President Donald Trump and the first lady are marking the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on Monday by observing a moment of silence and attending a Pentagon ceremony with Vice President Mike Pence.

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It’s his first 9/11 anniversary in office, and Trump’s honoring the day in keeping with his predecessorsIn a statement last week, his language was appropriately presidential:

“Our nation recalls the nearly 3,000 innocent people murdered on September 11, 2001. As we reflect on our sorrow and our grief, we come together to pray for those who lost loved ones. As a nation, we pray that the love of God and the comfort of knowing that those who perished are forever remembered brings them peace and gives them courage.”

But how did Trump talk about the attacks before coming to the White House?

Sept. 11, 2001: Size matters
On the day of the attacks, Trump made a comment that after the collapse of the Twin Towers, a property of his at 40 Wall Street had become the tallest in Manhattan. According to the Huffington Post, the claim was dubious; 40 Wall Street was shorter than the tallest post-9/11 building in New York City by 25 feet.

“40 Wall Street actually was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and it was actually, before the World Trade Center, was the tallest,” he said. “And then, when they built the World Trade Center, it became known as the second-tallest. And now it’s the tallest.”

Sept. 13, 2001: “New York is very strong and resilient and will rebuild very quickly”
Trump is a native New Yorker, meaning the events of Sept. 11 have an additional significance to him. The former real estate developer was interviewed in Lower Manhattan near the site of the attack by German news network N24 on Sept. 13, 2001.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, the devastation ... New York is very strong and resilient and will rebuild very quickly,” he told the network. He also advocated for a “quick” and “effective” United States response to the perpetrators of the World Trade Center attacks and vowed that he and his businesses would “be involved” in clearing and reconstructing the area around Ground Zero.

2013: “Best wishes” on this “special date”In 2013, Trump tweeted his “best wishes” to everyone, including his “haters and losers,” on the “special date.”

On the campaign trail:

A missing donationOn the campaign trail in 2015, Trump boasted that he’d given enormous amounts of money to charity in the days after the attacks, including a $10,000 donation to the Twin Towers Fund, one of the two foremost charities handling charitable giving and support for the 9/11 attacks. The Twin Towers Fund was dedicated to first responders and their families, especially families who lost a first responder in the attack; they disbursed $216 million before closing.

Reviews of charity records, however, showed “no evidence” that Trump or his foundation gave any money to the Twin Towers fund or its counterpart, New York City Public/Private Initiatives Inc, according to the New York Daily News. While he received praise and credit for that donation on Howard Stern’s radio show, the money reportedly never showed up in charity records or IRS forms.

Furthermore, while reviews of Trump Foundation have found hundreds of thousands of dollars in charitable donations over the years, there are no donations to 9/11 charities -- except one, a $1,000 donation to a Tom Cruise-founded “Workers Detoxification Fund” that used Scientology-approved methods to “detox” rescue workers, The Smoking Gun reported.

Missing Muslims
Trump also claimed to have seen “thousands” of “Muslims” on “rooftops” cheering the 9/11 attacks as they went on, a claim that was never verified.

The July 11 attacksLast year, in a campaign speech in Buffalo, New York, Trump said he “watched our police and our firemen down on 7/11, down at the World Trade Center, right after it came down.” He likely meant 9/11, not July 11.

Bush to blame?
During the campaign, Trump also blamed former president George W. Bush for the terror attacks, claiming Bush failed to listen to the CIA.

Better ratings than 9/11
This year, during an interview with the Associated Press, Trump claimed to have given CBS’ “Face the Nation” its highest ratings since the show’s coverage of the 9/11 attacks, with “5.2 million” people.

“It’s the highest for ‘Face the Nation,’ or as I call it, ‘Deface the Nation.’ The highest for ‘Deface the Nation’ since the World Trade Center, since the World Trade Center came down. It’s a tremendous advantage,” Trump said.

See the original report, which does not include all of Trump’s comments on 9/11, at

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