On September 11, 2001, just hours after terrorists brought down the World Trade Center, Donald Trump seemed to brag that one of his buildings was now the tallest in downtown Manhattan.
Trump, then a real-estate developer who had only flirted with a political career, was speaking to a local TV station, WWOR, on the day of the attacks when he was asked about a skyscraper he owned near the fallen Twin Towers.
“Donald, you have one of the landmark buildings down in the Financial District, 40 Wall Street,” said Alan Marcus, a WWOR analyst. “Did you have any damage, or did you — what’s happened down there?”
Trump’s response seemed to focus less on the deadly attack than on the fact that the World Trade Center was no longer the tallest building in the area.
“Well, it was an amazing phone call,” Trump said. “I mean, 40 Wall Street actually was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and it was actually before the World Trade Center the tallest, and then when they built the World Trade Center it became known as the second-tallest, and now it’s the tallest.”
He continued: “And I just spoke to my people, and they said it’s the most unbelievable sight, it’s probably seven or eight blocks away from the World Trade Center, and yet Wall Street is littered with two feet of stone and brick and mortar and steel.”
The interview came under scrutiny during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Critics argued that Trump’s references to his building’s relative height were out of place and insensitive so shortly after the attack. As Snopes put it, some viewed the comments as “the hallmark of an egoist with no compunctions about using tragedy as an opportunity for self-promotion.”
However, Snopes said that “in the context of the full interview, Trump’s remarks could perhaps be considered defensible,” adding that the question he was answering pertained to his building in particular.
Meanwhile, Marcus, who is also Trump’s friend and former publicist, told Politico last year that the response was simply “Donald being Donald.”
“He is the brand manager of Trump, and he is going to tout that brand, and he does it reflexively,” Marcus said. “Even on that day.”
To boot, Trump’s claim that his building was then the tallest in downtown Manhattan wasn’t accurate — the nearby 70 Pine Street building is 25 feet taller than Trump’s 40 Wall Street, though Trump’s building has four more stories.
Listen to Trump’s comments:
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