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Over the years, former President Donald Trump has made several claims about his involvement in recovery efforts after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, including that he spent a lot of time with first responders and that he sent hundreds of workers to ground zero.
Trump has not provided evidence to support these claims.
News accounts from the time put Trump near ground zero on multiple occasions, but there is no record he was directly involved with the ground zero recovery efforts.
- Learn more about PolitiFact's fact-checking process and rating system.
On the anniversary of 9/11, social media users resurfaced a claim that former President Donald Trump has often made but has not supported with evidence, about his involvement in search-and-rescue efforts immediately following the terrorist attacks 22 years ago.
Conservative activist Benny Johnson shared a Facebook video of an interview Trump gave a couple of days after Sept. 11, 2001. Above the video, Johnson wrote, "Joe Biden spent 9/11 hiding in a bunker. Kamala Harris spent it with her boyfriend Montel (Williams). Donald Trump spent 9/11 marching into a war zone of fire & ashes with an army of his own men to save Americans."
This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
Regarding Johnson’s characterization of how Biden and Harris spent that day: Biden, then a member of Congress, was evacuated from the Capitol along with other members and staff because of concerns it also might be targeted. Harris, then a city employee in San Francisco, recalled in 2020 that she was at the gym when news of the 9/11 attacks came on the TV. She briefly dated Williams, a TV host and actor.
But Johnson’s post exaggerates Trump’s actions in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. PolitiFact reached out to Johnson but did not receive a response by publication time.
Here’s what we know about Trump’s whereabouts on 9/11 and in the days that followed.
Over the years, Trump has made several claims that echo Johnson’s claim. Trump has said he spent "a lot of time" with first responders and helped clear the rubble. He has never provided evidence to support these claims.
The video Johnson shared included footage from Getty Images and a 2001 Trump interview in which he told multiple reporters that he was "just down to ground zero" and that the area was a "disaster."
News accounts in the days following the attacks put Trump near ground zero, but there’s no record of him helping first responders at the site directly.
On the day of the attacks, Trump called into WWOR-TV, a station serving New York City, and described what he saw from his office in Trump Tower, which was about 4 miles from the World Trade Center.
"I have a window that looks directly at the World Trade Center. I saw this huge explosion, I was with a group of people. I really couldn’t even believe it," he said.
Two days later, he gave interviews with a German TV station and NBC News a few blocks from ground zero. On Sept. 18, 2001, Trump was photographed outside the New York Stock Exchange, which is less than a half-mile from the World Trade Center.
Richard Alles, a New York City Fire Department battalion chief on Sept. 11, 2001, told PolitiFact in 2019 he had no knowledge of Trump or his employees being at the site.
"I was in a supervisory role with the fire department at the time," said Alles, who added that he was on the scene about 20 minutes after the second tower collapsed. "I was there for several months — I have no knowledge of (Trump) being down there."
Trump has also made several claims about sending hundreds of workers from his company to help with search and rescue at ground zero. These claims also lack evidence.
In a Sept. 13, 2001, interview with a German TV station, Trump said, "I have a lot of men down here right now. We have over 100 and we have about 125 coming. So, we’ll have a couple hundred people down here."
He made similar comments in an NBC News interview the same day: "I have hundreds of men inside working right now, and we’re bringing down another 125 in a little while."
Trump repeated these remarks in the interview clip Johnson shared. This interview also took place on Sept. 13, 2001.
"I have over 100 men down here digging out," Trump said to a group of reporters. "Out here doing an amazing job so I just want to give them some support. … We have another 100 coming in a little while."
Alles, the former New York fire chief, previously told PolitiFact that if Trump had sent a 100-worker crew to ground zero, "there would be a record of it."
"Everybody worked under direct supervision of the police and fire department and the joint commander for emergency services. Is there a chance he was ever down there by himself and I didn’t know it? It’s possible, but I know of no one who ever witnessed him there," Alles said.
PolitiFact reached out to Trump’s 2024 campaign, but it provided no evidence to support these claims. Other news outlets, including The Washington Post and The Associated Press, have previously sought information about how Trump helped after 9/11, and received no responses from Trump’s team.
In a Facebook post, Johnson claimed, "Donald Trump spent 9/11 marching into a war zone of fire and ashes with an army of his own men to save Americans."
News accounts from that time put Trump about 4 miles from ground zero on Sept. 11, 2001, and footage shows him blocks away on Sept. 13, 2001, and Sept. 18, 2001. None of those images or reports show him amid fire and ashes. And there is no record he was directly involved with first responders at the scene or that he sent hundreds of workers to aid the recovery. When asked, Trump has not provided evidence to corroborate the claims.
We rate this claim False.
PolitiFact, "Donald Trump says he spent a lot time with 9/11 responders. Here are the facts," July 30, 2019
PolitiFact, "Did Donald Trump pay hundreds of workers to help in search-and-rescue efforts days after 9/11?," March 13, 2019
PolitiFact, "Donald Trump was in New York, not Chicago, on 9/11, contrary to 2004 Time story," Feb. 22, 2016
The Seattle Times, "Trump’s 9/11 narrative: memory and hyperbole, 15 years later," April 20, 2016
The Washington Post, "Donald Trump: I ‘helped a little bit’ with clearing rubble at Ground Zero," April 19, 2016
USA Today, "Fact check: Did Trump help at ground zero after 9/11 attacks?," Sept. 11, 2019
The New York Times, "Fact-Checking Trump’s Claim He ‘Spent a Lot of Time’ With 9/11 Responders," July 29, 2019
The Washington Post, "Fact check of Trump 9/11 claims," Sept. 12, 2019
Getty Images, "Donald Trump speaks outside the New York Stock Exchange," Sept. 18, 2001
Getty Images, "Trump Reacts to WTC 9/11," Sept. 13, 2001
YouTube, "Donald Trump at Ground Zero right after the terror attacks - Original interview on 9/13/2001," Jan. 22, 2012
YouTube, "Donald Trump interview 2 days after 9/11 at ground zero," Nov. 17, 2016
YouTube, "Donald Trump Calls Into WWOR/UPN 9 News on 9/11," Sept. 12, 2016
CNN, "Kamala Harris describes where she was on 9/11," Sept. 11, 2020
U.S. Senate, "The Capitol Building as a Target," accessed Sept. 18, 2023
Montel Williams, X post, Aug. 7, 2019
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