Although 19 years have passed since the horrific attacks of 9/11, people across the United States pause to remember the day with a deep sense of sorrow and solemnity. The President of the United States should treat 9/11 as sacred and strive to honor the sacrifices of the first responders and their families. Unfortunately, Donald Trump’s shameful desecration of 9/11 began on that tragic day and shows no signs of letting up.
Last night, on the eve of 9/11, the New York Daily News reported that the Trump administration has “secretly siphoned” funds aimed at helping FDNY firefighters and medics who suffer from 9/11-related illnesses. A review of documents reveals that Trump’s Treasury Department “mysteriously” decided to keep some of the money — already authorized by Congress under the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program — for years without even a single communication about it.
This unexplained withholding of money is not only an affront to first responders, but it threatens the continued employment of physicians, nurses, and support staff and has required New York City to cover the shortfall, even as the coronavirus pandemic has stressed the economy. Not surprisingly, no one in the Trump administration has responded to requests for comments, and there is no sign that this will get resolved soon.
This is not the first time Trump has offended our sensibilities when it comes to 9/11. Within mere hours of the attacks, Trump boasted (inaccurately, no less) that he now owned the tallest building in Lower Manhattan. Trump later falsely claimed he watched “thousands and thousands” of Muslims on New Jersey rooftops cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center. Trump then lied by saying he “was down there also” with the first responders in the wake of 9/11, and he lied again by claiming he sent “a couple of hundred people” from his company to help with the recovery effort.
In the ensuing months, Trump pledged $10,000 to the Twin Towers Fund, yet investigations show he donated nothing. Trump later applied for and received substantial federal money for small business recovery, made available thanks to the efforts of Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, New York’s two senators at the time—even though, as Trump later admitted, his one property in the area was “fortunately” not affected. Last year, Trump secretly invited the Taliban, who protected Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, to Camp David for peace talks just days before the anniversary 9/11. And the list goes on.
Today, for the fourth year in a row, we commemorate 9/11 and honor the heroes and the fallen without the benefit of meaningful or honest participation by the President of the United States. Trump is a soulless, heartless grifter who has always viewed 9/11 as simply another opportunity to promote himself and hurt others. America deserves better, and we must make that message resoundingly clear on November 3.