September 13, 2019

Every time President Donald Trump talks about 9/11, U.S fact-checkers raise their pens. The story of what he did in 2001 right after two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York often changes. And fact-checkers always feel like pointing out the lack of evidence around this topic. 2019 was no different.

On Wednesday, The Washington Post covered the 9/11 commemoration at the Pentagon and published a detailed article on how Trump “expanded on his lengthy history of recollections of Sept. 11, 2001, and its aftermath.”

In the ceremony, Trump said that the moment he saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center from his window in midtown Manhattan, he “went down to Ground Zero with men” who worked for him “to try to help in any little way” that they could. It was not the first time Trump said that – and not the first time fact-checkers emphasized there is no data to support this story as being true.

The first official record of Trump at Ground Zero dates from Sept. 13, 2001, two days after the terrorist attacks. On that day, says a report from the Post, he was interviewed by a German media outlet who wanted to know if, as a businessman, he was going to be involved in the reconstruction of the site.

In 2018, Snopes dug more. Its fact-checkers contacted two men who were deeply involved in the Ground Zero effort. They both said they didn’t see any evidence of Trump or his men in the zone after the attacks.

Here’s another part of Trump’s story that’s usually questioned: During a 2015 rally, he claimed he watched the 9/11 attacks from a window in Trump Tower. On July 29, Vox pointed out just one problem: Trump Tower is more than four miles away. The claim could be considered “an exaggeration at best.”

While Trump is on the spot for his speech, he is also the target for dozens of pieces of false information around 9/11 — PolitiFact listed some of them this week. So let’s see if once and for all, after 18 years, people stop repeating that Trump “strongly opposed the construction of the 9/11 memorial.”

PolitiFact worked it out: The now-president “opposed to certain design elements of the new One World Trade Center, not the construction of the memorial itself.”

Cristina Tardáguila is the associate director of the International Fact-Checking Network and the founder of Agência Lupa, in Brazil. She can be reached at

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Cristina Tardáguila is the International Fact-Checking Network’s Associate Director. She was born in May 1980, in Brazil, and has lived in Rio de Janeiro for…
Cristina Tardáguila

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