Donald Trump commemorated the September 11 attacks as president for the first time Monday, but he has been far from shy about making his feelings known on the disaster over the previous 16 years. And the tactfulness, or lack of it, of many of his remarks perhaps shed light on why the president spoke with the aid of a teleprompter during his morning address from the Pentagon. Here are some of his most controversial comments on the attacks that claimed the lives of almost 3,000 people in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.
Trump Points Out His Building Is Now the Tallest
With smoke still billowing out of the twin towers as they collapsed, Trump called into a New York television station to discuss what was unfolding. Before long, though, the conversation turned to his own building in downtown Manhattan and where it now stood in the ranks of the largest in the area.
“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 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.”
Trump’s Fabrication About Muslims Celebrating
During his campaign for president, Trump frequently repeated a wholly unfounded rumor that “thousands and thousands” of Muslim Americans were “cheering” In Jersey City, New Jersey, as the towers came down across the Hudson River. The writer of a 2001 story that mentioned police investigating the unsubstantiated rumor said that his piece did not back up Trump’s claim. That led to the candidate mocking the reporter, who has a congenital joint condition, during a rally.
The Freedom Tower Is a ‘Pile of Junk’
While Trump supported immediately rebuilding on the site of the twin towers, he made it known that he was far from pleased with the design of the Freedom Tower.
“If we build this job the way it is, the terrorists win,” Trump told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in 2005. “If we rebuild the World Trade Center, but a story taller and stronger, then we win. I mean, I don't want to have the terrorists win, Chris. And that's what's going to happen if we build this pile of junk.”
Oh, and he couldn’t resist another plug for his own building for good measure.
“Whether you build the World Trade Center, or the Freedom Tower, or anything on that site, I think personally it's going to be a very hard rent,” he added. “So I'm very happy to have my building at 40 Wall Street.”
He Was Gracious Enough to Extend His Best Wishes to ‘Haters and Losers’
Trump showed he was not beyond continuing to air personal grievances, even when commemorating a tragedy like 9/11.
In 2013, on the anniversary of the attacks, he tweeted.
“@realDonaldTrump: I would like to extend my best wishes to all, even the haters and losers, on this special date, September 11th.”