Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is standing by his claim that he saw Muslims cheering in New Jersey on Sept. 11, 2001.
During a Nov. 29 appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Trump said: “I saw it. So many people saw it ... So, why would I take it back? I'm not going to take it back.”
“I saw it on television,” he said in response to a question about where he witnessed it.
“I saw clips,” he added. “And so did many other people. And many people saw it in person. I've had hundreds of phone calls to the Trump Organization saying, ‘We saw it. It was dancing in the streets.’”
Trump first made the claim earlier in November.
“Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down,” he said during a campaign rally in Alabama, according to The New York Times. “And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering. So something’s going on. We’ve got to find out what it is.”
Not long after, Trump was defending the controversial comments, according to NPR News.
During a Nov. 23 interview on ABC’s “This Week,” George Stephanopoulos asked Trump about it, saying that that police said the cheering never happened.
“George, it did happen,” he said, according to NPR. “There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down.
"I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down, and that tells you something. It was well covered at the time.”
But John J. Farmer Jr., who was attorney general of the state of New Jersey in 2001, told The Times in a subsequent story that, while there had been rumors of such cheering, it never actually happened.
Farmer told the Times that he was in the state’s command center in Jersey City on Sept. 11.
New Jersey State Police radio communications were disabled at the time because their antenna was on top of one of the Twin Towers.
“We were forced to rely on runners for intelligence about what was happening across the river and in New Jersey,” Farmer added.
He said the control center was receiving all sorts of rumors, including one that then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was missing and others that there were suicide bombers in Times Square. When he received news that there was celebrating in the streets of Jersey City and Paterson, he sent runners to have the information verified.
“If true, we would have had to mobilize the State Police and National Guard and locked the place down,” he said, noting that he feared such cheering could have lead to a violent backlash and rioting.
“We followed up on that report instantly because of its implications,” he added. “The word came back quickly from Jersey City, later from Paterson. False report. Never happened.”
But Trump seemed undeterred Nov. 29 on “Meet the Press.” He said he was confident there was cheering by Muslims on Sept. 11 “all around the world. That has been reported very strongly.”
“Why wouldn't it have taken place?” he said of New Jersey.
“I've had hundreds of people call in and tweet in on Twitter, saying they saw it and I was 100 percent right,” he added.