Donald Trump tells 9/11 first responders he was ‘down there’ with them after World Trade Center attacks
President Donald Trump on Monday signed a law ensuring lifelong medical help for emergency crews sickened by toxic debris on 9/11, while claiming considerable experience of his own at New York’s Ground Zero.
Trump, a native New Yorker long synonymous with the city’s real estate industry, claimed that he had taken part in the hellish post-9/11 response at Manhattan’s Ground Zero.
"I was down there also. But I’m not considering myself a first responder, but I was down there. I spent a lot of time down there with you," he told the first responders at the White House.
It’s not clear how much time, if any, Trump spent in Ground Zero, as the area was quickly sealed off by law enforcement.
Trump has previously claimed, without evidence, that he sent more than 200 workers to join the Ground Zero clean-up.
Joined by some 60 first responders from the Sept 11, 2001 attacks, Trump said in the White House Rose Garden: "Our nation owes each of you a profound debt that no words or deeds will ever repay."
The measure ends what had been an embarrassing situation in which Congress had to periodically vote on extending the compensation package for victims of the hijacked airliners that crashed into New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.
The fund was running out of money, amid political wrangling, but will now be guaranteed until 2092, meaning help through the lifetimes of all those involved.
Tens of thousands people, mostly firefighters and other emergency workers who spent long days sifting through the ruins of the Twin Towers, have become sick with cancer or respiratory diseases.
About 2,000 have already died, Trump said, and there are estimates that the toll will eventually outstrip the nearly 3,000 people killed on the day itself.
"The first responders from across the country rushed to New York and worked endless days and sleepless nights. They fought to rescue every person trapped in the rubble, and then searched for months to find the remains of the fallen," Trump said.