After years of foot-dragging and public pressure, the Republican-led Senate finally passed H.R. 1327, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which will create a permanent fund for first responders and their families to treat cancer and other illnesses contracted during the months they spent working to clear the toxic debris at Ground Zero.
In recent months, awards from the fund had been cut in half because Republicans refused to bring the bill for a vote, and there was uncertainty surrounding the future of the funds. Luis Alvarez, a first responder who testified to Congress in June, passed away shortly after making the trek with Jon Stewart to Washington, D.C., in his final heroic act. Although there is relief that Congress finally did the right thing, it’s hard to forget that 16 first responders died in the month just before Mitch McConnell finally allowed the bill to come up for a vote. Alvarez endured 69 rounds of chemotherapy before he perished.
You’d think Donald Trump would’ve been solemn during this bill signing, focusing the attention on the heroes who have already died and the heroes who are still enduring with their illnesses, or those who most assuredly await their own diagnosis, but no. Although Trump did mention Alvarez, he quickly turned the attention to himself. Worse than that, he repeated a lie that he was one of the people who rushed to the World Trade Center to clear rubble. Humble Trump said he didn’t consider himself to be a first responder, but that implication was clearly there.
The White House now says every member of Congress was invited, but they scheduled the event last minute, knowing key members behind the bill, mostly Democrats, were not even in D.C.
— Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) July 29, 2019
In fact, he has repeatedly and steadfastly lied about his role on that tragic day and the days afterward. In 2016, he told a crowd that he helped clear rubble and search for victims. THIS IS A LIE OF THE WORST KIND!
Trump claims he helped clear rubble and search for survivors on 9/11: pic.twitter.com/G3yodnBMK2
— Angelo Carusone (@GoAngelo) April 19, 2016
Coward Donald Trump was nowhere near that scene. Think of all the moments that were captured by the media during those days. Hillary Clinton at the scene. Rudy Giuliani at the scene. George W. Bush with his megaphone atop the rubble. How dare Trump claim that he too was there? Of all his lies, to me, this is the worst. The only place Trump was on 9/11 was doing media, where he had the damned audacity to brag that, because the World Trade Center had fallen, his Trump Tower building was now the tallest in New York City.
“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,” Trump said in the WWOR interview. “And now it’s the tallest.”
That was the first of many lies Trump told about his role on that day. As The Washington Post reported, not only did Donald Trump play no role in recovery efforts, but he had the audacity to apply for recovery funds, which he did get from the federal government, despite the fact that none of his buildings were damaged.
The fund was supposed to cover uninsured losses for small businesses, but Trump somehow received $150,000 in taxpayer money; his application cited “rent loss,” “cleanup” and “repair.” Yet none of Trump’s properties were actually damaged in the attack.
Trump later claimed it was a reimbursement for his charitable efforts. “It was probably a reimbursement for the fact that I allowed people, for many months, to stay in the building (40 Wall Street), use the building and store things in the building,” he said.
But not only does that contradict his application, but the fund was not supposed to reimburse anyone for pitching in. Which, by the way, there’s no evidence Trump actually did.
In 2015, Donald Trump said he personally saw victims jumping from the WTC and he saw the second plane hit. The Post also noted this was a lie.
Trump Tower is four miles from the site of the World Trade Center. He could not possibly have seen people jump from the buildings during the attacks.
Trump also claimed that he “lost hundreds of friends” at the World Trade Center, but when journalists inquired to his campaign about it, they were unable to produce even a single name of a friend Trump lost.
And while Donald Trump did invite first responders and their families, he still couldn’t find it in his heart to act in a bipartisan manner. He didn’t invite a single Democrat to the signing ceremony. Not Sen. Chuck Schumer. Not Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Not Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who was the lead sponsor of the bill.
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) July 29, 2019
Trump’s complete lack of empathy or self-awareness was further also on display as he joked it up when he invited the first responders and their families on stage. See his comments below and ask yourself, what kind of a heartless person would make a joke about falling when many of the loved ones of the people he invited on stage fell to their deaths or cleared the bodies of people who’d fallen to their deaths?
Just before signing the 9/11 victims compensation bill, Trump jokes with the first responders and their families that the stage may not hold all of them but that if it collapses they "are not falling very far" pic.twitter.com/h9qY3C7iHK
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) July 29, 2019
In the meantime, 9/11 first responder John Feal was on hand for the signing. He has tirelessly worked to secure these funds for his fellow first responders, as well as for the children and teachers of the 12 schools located in the immediate area around the World Trade Center. If you do nothing else today, please watch this interview with the man who truly deserves our attention.