When it comes to 9/11, President Trump’s lying turns compulsive.
He is no sooner reminded of the attack on the World Trade Center than we suddenly have a twisted successor to George Washington, one who essentially says that “I cannot not tell a lie.”
The latest, most heedless and most easily disproved 9/11 lie came on Sunday, after Trump announced that Delta Force had killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
While taking questions from reporters, Trump said, “I also wanted Hamza bin Laden, because he’s a young man, around 30, looks just like his father, tall, very handsome, and he was talking bad things just like his father.”
The father being Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a similar raid during the Obama years. The son was reported killed in late July.
The name bin Laden remains synonymous with 9/11. Trump had no sooner uttered it on Sunday it than he was once again compelled to lie. He suddenly was speaking of a book he wrote a year before 9/11 that he claimed predicted Osama bin Laden would attack the World Trade Center.
“To this day I get people coming up to me, they say, you know what one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen about you is that you predicted that Osama bin Laden had to be killed before he knocked down the World Trade Center,” he said. “It’s true.”
The book in question is The America We Deserve and it came out in 2000. Here is the entirety of what it has to say about bin Laden:
“One day we’re told that a shadowy figure with no fixed address named Osama bin Laden is public enemy Number One, and U.S. jetfighters lay waste to his camp in Afghanistan. He escapes back under some rock, and a few news cycles later, it’s on to a new enemy and new crisis.”
The book offers no such prediction regarding bin Laden. It does invalidate Trump’s further claim on Sunday that “nobody ever heard of Osama bin Laden until really the World Trade Center.”
“A year, a year and a half before the World Trade Center came down, the book came out,” Trump said on Sunday. “I was talking about Osama bin Laden. I said you have to kill him, you have to take him out… And I’m saying to people, take out Osama bin Laden, that nobody ever heard of.”
If nobody had ever heard of him, why was bin Laden branded public enemy number one, as Trump himself says in his book?
And why did we try to kill this supposed unknown in 1998, as also described two years later in Trump’s book? Never mind that we used cruise missiles, not fighter jets.
But of course, that did not stop him from also saying, “I made a prediction and I... I... let’s put it this way: If they would have listened to me, a lot of things would have been different.”
And of course, he blames his favorite villains for not not telling a lie.
“Now, most of the press doesn’t want to write that but, you know, but it is true,” he said. “If you go back, look at my book.”
As has been reported in The Daily Beast, Sunday’s wacky whopper was preceded by a host of other 9/11 lies. Trump has said he lost “hundreds of friends” when he cannot name one and was seen at none of the funerals, not even those the FDNY asked the public to attend because their surviving members were thinly spread between so many services. He further claimed to have watched TV news footage of hundreds of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the attack, images seen by nobody else. He also said he was able to watch from his apartment four miles away as people jumped from the burning towers. He made that claim despite a phone interview with a local news station on the day of the attack in which he spoke only of an employee downtown seeing the jumpers.
“I have somebody who was down there who witnessed at least 10 people jumping,” he said.
During that same phone interview, Trump claimed that with the collapse of the towers, his building at 40 Wall Street was the tallest structure in downtown Manhattan. That sad distinction actually was inherited by a building a block east, at 70 Pine Street.
Trump more recently told a gathering of first responders at the White House that he spent “a lot of time” with them at Ground Zero, when he in fact he appeared only briefly at the perimeter for an interview with German television two days after the towers fell.
In the aftermath of the worst attack since Pearl Harbor, all the major news outlets were focused on real news. Other than the phone call with the local TV station, Trump had to make do with an outlet nobody in New York had ever heard of. Maybe the station was only perchance from the ancestral homeland he had effectively disavowed by writing in his first book, Art of the Deal, that he was of Swedish heritage, a deliberate rather than compulsive lie whose clear intent was to avoid deterring prospective Jewish tenants.
During that interview on 9/13, Trump said that he had sent “a lot of men” to Ground Zero and that they had saved five people that very day. He had in fact sent no men at all. The last person to be rescued alive had been extricated from the rubble by first responders the day before.
The intent of this lie was clearly to fabricate a role for himself in the biggest drama in the city’s history, when an act of pure evil had been met by selfless good and everything was transformed for a time. The country was briefly unified and embraced the right priorities.
At the Concert for New York City at Madison Square Garden, the biggest celebrities were not the movie actors and pop stars, but the firefighters and cops. A narcissistic and mendacious money guy did not even rate.
Apparently, Trump never forgot that brief interlude of sanity. He apparently learned that for him, national unity is the way to obscurity. And 9/11 continues to trigger an urge to fabricate a role for himself in a drama when America truly was great again.
Suddenly, he cannot not tell a lie.