Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has become known for his offensive statements on everything from religion to race to poverty, but the comments he made in a 2001 interview just after the 9/11 attacks might be the most devastating. The 9/11 terrorist attacks, which occurred fifteen years ago today on September 11th, 2001, caused the deaths of almost 3,000 people and injured over 6,000 more.
Trump, however, did not seem concerned about the devastating destruction and loss of life caused by the 9/11 attacks. In an interview with WWOR-TV on 9/11, as reported by Politico, Trump made the national tragedy about himself by comparing the size of one of his buildings, 40 Wall Street, with the Twin Towers.
“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. And now it’s the tallest.”
You can listen to the excerpt from the 9/11 interview below.
— Ess (@ScottyLiterati) September 11, 2016
On a day as horrifyingly tragic as 9/11, with the victim count still unknown and the nation scrambling to come to terms with its grief and loss, Trump decided to make the day about him. For a man like Trump, who defines his self-worth by the size of his buildings and his fortune, 9/11 was an unexpected boon that gave him the tallest building in downtown Manhattan. The implication of Donald Trump’s words in the 9/11 interview is clear: Trump benefited from 9/11.
Unfortunately, this was not the first time Trump was tone-deaf about the subject of 9/11.
After the attacks, Trump received over $150,000 in funding from the Empire State Development Corporation, which distributed money to those who aided in New York City’s recovery after 9/11. The Empire State Development Corp. used over $20 billion in federal aid funds to assist in rebuilding lower Manhattan and create the World Trade Center Memorial – both of which are noble causes fully deserving of funding.
Trump, however, obtained the 9/11 funding under false pretenses and lied about the extent of his help during the 9/11 attacks. The problems with the 9/11 funding were outlined in a campaign advertisement by Never Trump, a PAC intended to stop Trump from winning the presidency.
In a statement to TIME, Trump claimed that the funding was given for his assistance in the 9/11 recovery effort.
“It was probably a reimbursement for the fact that I allowed people, for many months, to stay in the building, use the building and store things in the building. I was happy to do it and to this day I am still being thanked for the many people I helped. The value of what I did was far greater than the money talked about, much of which was sent automatically to building owners in the area.”
Trump’s claims about receiving funding for sheltering civilians in his buildings during the aftermath of 9/11 are completely unfounded. Yesterday, the New York Daily News broke an exclusive scoop that Trump lied about using money bookmarked to help the victims of 9/11.
“Records from the Empire State Development Corp., which administered the recovery program, show that Trump’s company asked for those funds for ‘rent loss,’ ‘cleanup’ and ‘repair’ — not to recuperate money lost in helping people. That government program was designed to help local businesses get back on their feet — not reimburse people for their charitable work.”
None of the reasons listed for Trump obtaining the 9/11 funding – rent loss, cleanup, repair – would have actually benefited the many victims of 9/11.
After the 9/11 attacks, Trump stated that his building at 40 Wall Street “wasn’t affected by what happened to the World Trade Center.” However, he certainly seemed to think the events of 9/11 affected his properties when he bragged that 40 Wall Street was now the tallest building in downtown Manhattan.
On the fifteenth anniversary of the devastating 9/11 attacks, it is necessary to think of the victims and their families with respect and sympathy. Donald Trump’s words and actions, however, reflect an entirely different attitude towards a national tragedy.
[Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images]