Along with saying he lost hundreds of friends on 9/11, Donald Trump says he provided hundreds of workers for the recovery effort.
“Well, I have a lot of men down here right now,” Trump told a German TV station in an interview just uptown from Ground Zero two days after the attack. “We have over 100 and we have about 125 coming. So we’ll have a couple of hundred people down here.”
He added, “They’re very brave and what they’re doing is amazing, and we’ll be involved in some form to reconstruct.”
Even if he never dispatched people in addition to the more than 100 he said were already doing brave and amazing work, the odds are that dozens of them would have since suffered from 9/11-related illnesses.
But just as Trump replied with only silence when The Daily Beast asked him to name even one friend he lost during the 9/11 attacks, and just as nobody seems to remember him at any of the many funerals, his spokeswoman failed to respond when The Daily Beast asked on Tuesday whether any of his workers had suffered from 9/11-related illnesses and, if so, what he had done to assist them.
A question that asks itself is how a guy who says he lost hundreds of friends in the attack and employed hundreds of people in the recovery effort could have failed to voice support late last year for the renewal of the Zadroga Act. That is the federal legislation providing support to the more than 33,000 people who have fallen ill as a result of exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero.
Trump ignored multiple letters drafted by FDNY Deputy Chief Richard Alles on behalf of the Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act, inquiring whether he intended to support the legislation.
“We have not received a response from you,” an Oct. 6, 2015, letter noted. “However, we saw your recent statements about the 14th anniversary of 9/11 via your official Twitter account.”
The letter—which Trump would also fail to answer—closed by quoting Trump’s own tweet from Sept. 11, 2015:
“Let’s all take a moment to remember all of the heroes from a very tragic day that we cannot let happen again.”
Those stirring sentiments came from a self-proclaimed billionaire who apparently contributed not a penny of his own money to the victims, unless former mayor Rudolph Giuliani is being truthful when he says Trump chose to contribute anonymously to the families of fallen cops and firefighters.
Records do show that Trump pocketed $150,000 in 9/11 funds meant to lessen the impact of the attack on small businesses. He told Time magazine that the grant was connected to an office tower he owns at 40 Wall St.
“It was probably a reimbursement for the fact that I allowed people, for many months, to stay in the building, use the building, and store things in the building,” Trump was quoted saying. “I was happy to do it, and to this day I am still being thanked for the many people I helped. The value of what I did was far greater than the money talked about, much of which was sent automatically to building owners in the area.”
As noted by the New York Daily News, Trump actually applied for the grant, seeking relief for “rent loss,” “cleanup,” and “repair.” He happened to have told German TV during the same Sept. 13, 2001, interview in which he spoke of his hundreds of recovery workers that his own properties in the area had not been affected.
“I have a lot of property down there, but it fortunately wasn’t affected by what happened at the World Trade Center,” he said.
Trump may have gone repeatedly bankrupt running casinos in Atlantic City, but he seems to have made a profit off 9/11, with no apparent donations to cut into his net.
Another question that asks itself is why a man who had long publicly commented on everything from the Central Park Five to the national debt and who declares such love for cops, firefighters, and construction workers said nothing back in 2003, after it became known that the Bush administration had been lying when it said the air at Ground Zero was safe. Tests had in fact found a toxic brew that included everything from asbestos to mercury to silicates, along with detectable traces of human remains.
Hillary Clinton, then a senator, had much to say. And whatever lies she may or may not have told in her public life, however untrustworthy she may or may not be, she spoke pure truth in this instance. And she did so when it really mattered.
“I don’t think any of us expected that our government would knowingly deceive us about something as sacred as the air we breathe,” she declared back then. “The air that our children breathe in schools, that our valiant first responders were facing on the pile.”
There seemed to be nothing contrived and calculating about her anger.
“I am outraged. In the immediate aftermath, the first couple of days, nobody could know. But a week later? Two weeks later? Two months later? Six months later? Give me a break!”
By then, thousands had fallen ill. They included Sister Cindy Mahoney, an Episcopal nun some came to call the Angel of Ground Zero, as she spent six months providing spiritual comfort to recovery workers at the site. She began suffering respiratory difficulties, and her medical expenses soared beyond her means. Her final days became even crueler when she was reportedly discharged from hospice care due to an inability to pay.
“We know that so many are now suffering health effects from breathing the toxic air at Ground Zero,” Clinton told the New York Daily News after learning of the nun’s death. “Yet there are still some who doubt the link. By raising attention to her own devastating illness, Sister Mahoney will continue as she did in life, to help those affected by 9/11.”
Yes, Clinton fainted at the September 11 Memorial & Museum during the observance of the 15th anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday.
And yes, she might have been more forthright about a diagnosis of pneumonia on Friday.
But when it was truly important to tell the truth about health, Hillary did so about Sister Cindy and the thousands of others struck by 9/11-related illnesses.
They may even include some of Trump’s people, unless the guy whose supporters say he tells it like it really is tells it like it isn’t, even when it comes to 9/11.