As the world remembers the events that unfolded 17 years ago in the U.S. with the September 11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, some are also questioning if Donald Trump was there that day and helped to search for survivors. So, was Trump really at ground zero that day?
When a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, saw the fall of the World Trade Center, Donald Trump, then a businessman in the area, claimed he, and many people paid by him, ventured down to ground zero to look for survivors.
According to The Daily Beast, Donald Trump told a German news station that he was helping with search and rescue efforts.
“Well, I have a lot of men down here, right now. We have over 100 and we have about 125 coming. So we’ll have a couple of hundred people down here. And they are very brave and what they’re doing is amazing. And we’ll be involved in some form in helping to reconstruct.”
In fact, a meme currently circulating shows a picture of Trump at ground zero and captioned with “2 days after the September 11th attacks Donald Trump was at ground zero with hundreds of workers that he paid for, to help find and identify victims. This is the REAL American we Deplorables voted for.”
Was #DonaldTrump at Ground Zero Searching for Survivors Two Days After 9/11 with Workers He Paid For?: A meme echoes President Trump's 2001 comments about having hundreds of workers search for survivors after the terrorist attacks in Lower Manhattan. https://t.co/IPFOSzURKw pic.twitter.com/wRuNxAAiaI— Patrick (@cahulaan) September 12, 2018
However, did this really happen? Did Donald Trump help out in the aftermath of 9/11?
While the image used in the meme shows Donald Trump outside the New York Stock Exchange, the image was actually taken on September 18 and was a press image taken while Donald Trump talked about the event. It was not an actual image of him assisting in the search and rescue attempts. However, this doesn’t conclusively prove that he wasn’t out immediately after the 9/11 attacks and helping to find victims, only that the image used in the meme was incorrect.
In addition to the original comments made to the German outlet, according to Snopes, Trump also made references to an NBC News reporter in regard to his actions.
“I have hundreds of men inside working right now and we’re bringing down another 125 in a little while,” Trump claimed in the interview. “And they’ve never done work like this before. And they’re hard-working people but they’ve never seen anything like it. And they’ve never done work like this before, it’s terrible.”
In addition, he commented on finding bodies in the aftermath of 9/11.
“Well there are a lot of them but they’ve never seen bodies like this — bodies all over. The great thing is when they find somebody that’s alive like the five firemen that they just found a little while ago. So that’s the great thing, and that’s what they were all striving for. But generally speaking, that’s not the case. So, they are working very, very hard, but it’s a very depressing situation for these folks.”
During these initial interviews, Trump never referenced the names of any of the people who assisted him, or who he paid to help him search, so there is no way to verify these details other than taking Trump’s word on the matter. And, so far, there appears to be little by way of evidence via people stepping forward to say they helped Trump or were hired by him.
Snopes has stated that they reached out for further details from the White House Press Office and the Trump Organization. However, so far, they have received no response.
So, for the time being, people will have to rely solely on the word of Donald Trump in relation to whether or not he helped with the search and rescue mission in the aftermath of 9/11.