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Another 9/11 anniversary, another suspect claim from former President Trump that he helped out at Ground Zero in the attacks’ aftermath.
Trump told Newsmax Tuesday night that he was “down there” near the World Trade Center and helped out after the attacks, a claim he’s been making for two decades now. But while he was near the site in the days after the attack, he’s never proven that he helped—and he’s lied about charitable donations to support 9/11 victims.
“Well, I was down there right after the event and I brought a big crew of people down and I helped, a lot of other people helped. Those first responders are very brave,” Trump said.
Trump, who plans to spend the 20th anniversary of 9/11 by calling a boxing match, went on to claim that he heard another building nearby creaking as if it might collapse.
“We were hearing creaks—I’ve never forgotten it, it was I think the United States Steel Building it was called at the time, it was 50 stories tall, and we heard creaks. I said, ‘That building is going to come down,’ and two big firemen grabbed me, and grabbed other people, and they just moved out of that area. Never came down, but I never heard a noise like that. And it was a scary situation.”
It appears that this is a new claim—it doesn’t appear that he’s made it publicly in his past recollections of the events. On 9/11 itself, Trump indicated that he watched that attack from afar—and actually made sure to note that the Twin Towers’ collapse meant he now owned the tallest building in Lower Manhattan.
“40 Wall Street actually was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and it was actually, before the World Trade Center, was the tallest — and then, when they built the World Trade Center, it became known as the second tallest,” Trump told WWOR. “And now it’s the tallest.”
Though Trump did go down near Ground Zero in the days after the attack, there’s no evidence that he helped—and some evidence that he didn’t follow through on promises to help.
That included a 2001 pledge to Howard Stern to donate $10,000 to the Twin Towers Fund, the official 9/11 charity program. The program didn’t receive that money in the months after 9/11, and had no record that he ever made the donation, according to a 2016 audit.
By contrast, Trump cashed in on a post-9/11 program created to help Manhattan businesses impacted by the attacks, receiving a $150,000 grant from the program for his 40 Wall Street property near the site. He claimed that it was “reimbursement” for his helping shelter people at the building. But records from the state office which administered the recovery program show that Trump's company asked for those funds not to pay for their good samaritan efforts but for “rent loss,” “cleanup” and “repairs.”
Trump has also previously claimed he lost “hundreds of friends” on 9/11, though he’s refused to say who they were.
And he claimed that he saw footage of thousands of Arab Americans cheering the towers’ collapse, even though there’s zero evidence that ever occurred.
“There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down,” he said.
Trump has chosen a strange way to mark the 20th anniversary of the tragic attacks on his former hometown. He announced Wednesday night that he’ll be offering live pay-per-view commentary for a Saturday night boxing match between 58-year-old Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort, a 44-year-old former UFC light heavyweight champion whose prime was over two decades ago. Holyfield is a substitute for Oscar de la Hoya, who pulled out of the event due to testing positive for COVID-19; it is being promoted by Triller, best known for mounting such bizarre, low-rent spectacles as a boxing match between influencer Jake Paul and mixed martial artist Ben Askren.
“I love great fighters and great fights,” said Trump said in a statement. “I look forward to seeing both this Saturday night and sharing my thoughts ringside. You won’t want to miss this special event.”