Multiple independent fact-checkers cast doubt on real-estate tycoon Donald Trump’s claims over the weekend that he saw people “cheering” in New Jersey after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on US soil.
In an interview on ABC on Sunday, Trump stood by claims first made at a Saturday rally that he saw people in New Jersey — which Trump noted has “large Arab populations” — cheering after the attacks brought down the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.
“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,” Trump said on Sunday. “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. And that tells you something. It was well-covered at the time.”
Despite Trump’s insistence that he saw such celebrations, political fact-checkers across the board have found little to no evidence of any public celebrations following the attacks.
PolitiFact noted that there were several media reports of police inquiries into individuals who were suspected of celebrating the attacks in Jersey City and nearby Paterson, but there is no evidence that these investigations revealed any actual celebrations or resulted in any convictions.
“This defies basic logic,” PolitiFact’s Lauren Caroll wrote in a “Pants on Fire” ruling.
“If thousands and thousands of people were celebrating the 9/11 attacks on American soil, many people beyond Trump would remember it. And in the 21st century, there would be video or visual evidence.”
The New York Times said definitively that “no news reports exist of people celebrating.”
And The Washington Post reached the same conclusion, citing a strongly worded refutation of Trump’s comments by the police commissioner of Paterson.
“Trump has defamed the Muslim communities of New Jersey. He cannot simply assert something so damning; he must provide some real evidence or else issue an apology,” Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler wrote.
Many New Jersey law enforcement and public officials have refuted Trump’s claims.
On Sunday, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop (D) slammed Trump, denying that anyone had cheered in Jersey City following the attacks.
“Trump is plain wrong, and he is shamefully politicizing an emotionally charged issue,” Fulop said in a statement. “No one in Jersey City cheered on September 11.”
Though he issued less of a terse denial of Trump’s charges, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), a presidential rival, also cast doubt on Trump’s claims.
“I don’t recall that. I don’t. I mean, listen, I can’t say, Matt, I can’t say that I have — it was a pretty emotional time for me because, as I’ve mentioned before, there’s family involved, there’s friends involved, and so it was a pretty harrowing time,” Christie told a reporter, according to BuzzFeed.
He added: “I do not remember that. And so, it’s not something that was part of my recollection. I think if it had happened, I would remember it. But, you know, there could be things I forget, too. I don’t remember that. No.”
The Washington Post noted that Trump has gotten more “four Pinocchio” ratings than any other candidate in the 2016 race. And in a morning newsletter co-written by “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd on Monday, NBC News labelled Trump the first “post-truth” candidate.
“It’s hard to disagree with the assessment of our colleague Benjy Sarlin: ‘Let’s not sugarcoat what’s going on. The GOP front-runner is spreading hateful falsehoods about blacks and Muslims,'” the authors wrote.
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