Donald Trump’s claim that he saw “thousands and thousands of people” in New Jersey cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, has been refuted by police, elected officials, religious leaders, fact-checkers and the media — and, now, the mayor of New York City on 9/11: Rudy Giuliani.
“We did have some celebrating — that is true,” Giuliani said on CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday. “We had some pockets of celebrating.”
How many pockets?
“Ten. Twelve? Thirty. Forty,” Giuliani recalled. “We had one situation in which a candy store owned by a Muslim family was celebrating that day, right near a housing development. And the kids in the housing development came in and beat them up.”
“We expected a lot of irrational acts of violence against people who appeared to be Islamic or Muslim, and we had very, very little,” Giuliani continued. “And we did have some reports of people celebrating that day as the towers were coming down.”
But according to Giuliani, there weren’t “thousands and thousands,” as Trump has repeatedly said.
“I would’ve known that for sure,” Giuliani said. “I think what he’s doing is exaggerating.”
The former mayor — who ran unsuccessfully for the 2008 Republican nomination — said he “would’ve been thrown out of the race” had he made such a claim during his campaign.
So why hasn’t Trump?
Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Macon, Ga., on Monday. (Photo: Branden Camp/AP)
“He is judged by a different standard,” Giuliani said. “Maybe it’s because of his background ‘The Apprentice’ and as an entertainer, and the fact that he’s been a big personality. He almost, like, speaks in headlines. Gets your attention. And a lot of the points he makes are very substantive. But the headline turns out to be exaggerated.”
Giuliani pointed to Trump’s controversial assertion that most of the Mexican immigrants crossing the border into the United States are criminals and “rapists.”
“Wrong,” Giuliani said. “Most of the people coming over are good people. In between those good people are rapists, murderers and killers.”
On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Trump sparred with NBC’s Chuck Todd, who pressed the GOP candidate on his controversial claim.
“This didn’t happen in New Jersey,” Todd said.
“Chuck, it did happen in New Jersey,” Trump replied. “I have hundreds of people that agree with me.”
The real estate mogul again offered a 2001 Washington Post article that stated the FBI was looking into reports of people celebrating as proof of his claim. Officials could not find evidence such celebrations ever occurred.
“We’re looking for other articles,” Trump said. “And we’re looking for other clips. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we found them, Chuck. But for some reason, they’re not that easy to come by. I saw it. So many people saw it, Chuck. And so why would I take it back? I’m not going to take it back.”
“You’re running for president of the United States,” Todd argued. “Your words matter. Truthfulness matters.”
“Take it easy, Chuck. Just play cool,” Trump responded. “Many, many people have seen it. I have a very good memory, I’ll tell you. I saw it somewhere on television many years ago. And I never forgot it.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was appointed U.S. attorney shortly after 9/11, says Trump is simply wrong.
“It didn’t happen,” Christie told reporters during a campaign stop in New Hampshire Monday. “People can say anything, but the facts are the facts, that did not happen in New Jersey that day and it hasn’t happened since.”
“It’s just wrong. It’s factually wrong,” the GOP hopeful said in a separate interview with CNN. “Everybody else can figure out what they think is outrageous or not outrageous — in the context of Donald, outrageous is a high bar.”
Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Macon, Ga., on Monday. (Photo: Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters)