Real-estate mogul Donald Trump released a lengthy, fiery statement Thursday afternoon responding to allegations that he mocked a reporter’s physical disability for not standing by his years-old story about the World Trade Center attacks.
“Despite having one of the all-time great memories I certainly do not remember him,” the Republican front-runner declared of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski in his statement.
During a Tuesday-night campaign rally, Trump impersonated Kovaleski supposedly retracting his report about about the September 11, 2001, attacks. Trump’s gestures appeared to many people, including The Times and Kovaleski himself, that he was mocking Kovaleski’s disability that limits arm movements.
“We think it’s outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters,” a Times spokeswoman told Politico.
According to The Washington Post, the gestures were “all the more personal because Kovaleski covered Trump while reporting for the New York Daily News between 1987 and 1993, a tumultuous period for Trump in which he struggled through several financial setbacks.”
But Trump’s lengthy statement insisted he had no knowledge of whether Kovaleski “is Muhammad Ali in his prime — or somebody of less athletic or physical ability.”
“His recent statement, to me, seemed like (again without knowing what he looks like) he was groveling and searching for a way out from what he wrote many years ago before,” Trump added. “I merely mimicked what I thought would be a flustered reporter trying to get out of a statement he made long ago.”
Trump also trashed The Times:
This is just another example of the dishonest New York Times trying to make a story out of nothing. They should focus on the survival of their newspaper and not on dishonest and very bad reporting about me. The New York Times has become more and more irrelevant and rapidly becoming a total joke — sad!
The spat over The Times and Kovaleski started after Trump recently declared that “thousands and thousands” of people were spotted in Jersey City, New Jersey, celebrating the September 11 attacks. Northern New Jersey is home to a large Muslim population.
The two reporters wrote at the time that “authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.”
But they both recently insisted, after Trump made his claim, that their reporting never substantiated the allegations. Trump’s Thursday statement said Kovaleski should stand by his years-old report.
“I have tremendous respect for people who are physically challenged and [I] have spent tens of millions of dollars thoughout buildings all over the world on making them handicapped accessible,” Trump said. “With that being said, Mr. Kovaleski should not have tried to pull back from his statement.”
On Wednesday night, Trump also released a raging tweetstorm against The Times, which had criticised the candidate earlier that day for mocking Kovaleski.
View Trump’s full tweetstorm and statement below.
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