On Friday night, Bill Maher returned to his Real Time studio for the first time since the lockdowns started. He performed in front of a tested, masked, scaled-down, and socially distanced crowd—in lieu of his giant L.A. backyard.
“Boy, I picked a good week to get back to the studio with people because the forecast on my phone today said: smoke. Tomorrow’s forecast? Blade Runner,” Maher said of the horrific wildfires ravaging California and Oregon.
Then he segued to his favorite target. “And President Trump has been monitoring the fires very closely. He said his heart goes out to the insurance company,” cracked the comic. “Oh, he’s full of empathy, this guy. It’s the 9/11 anniversary today, and Trump said he would never forget the moment when he learned he had the tallest building in Manhattan.”
When the crowd responded with a mix of cheers and groans, Maher was forced to clarify: “Trump said that—because he’s an asshole.”
Indeed, Maher was right—Trump did say this, and worse, he said it on 9/11/2001. As the World Trade Center was on fire, the real estate mogul called in to UPN 9 News and remarked, “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.”
In addition to being heartless, this was a lie—70 Pine Street was 25 feet taller than Trump’s 40 Wall Street building—and one of several that Trump has told about that fateful day, including that he saw “thousands and thousands” of Muslims cheering across the water in New Jersey as the Towers fell (this did not happen); that he saw bodies falling from the Towers from his apartment in Midtown Manhattan (unlikely, as it is over four miles away from Ground Zero); that he lost “hundreds” of friends on 9/11 (there is no evidence to support this, and he refuses to name any); that he took $150,000 from a fund earmarked for local businesses because he was helping house people (this was proved to be a lie); that he personally helped clean up rubble at Ground Zero (9/11 first responders say they saw no sign of Trump); and that his charitable foundation made only one donation in the wake of 9/11, and it was $1,000 to a Scientology front organization (OK, this last one actually happened).
Maher brought it back to Sept. 11, 2001, toward the end of his monologue. “I tell you, 2001, it was such a different time,” he said. “Back then, Trump was a punchline with no interest in governing. Oh yeah...”