Donald Trump paid a visit to NYPD and FDNY officers on the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, after deciding not to make his own solo trip to Ground Zero.
The former president surprised officers at NYPD’s 17th Precinct in East Midtown in Manhattan, New York City, Saturday afternoon where he posed for photos with a group of cops and held a brief question and answer session.
Trump said very little about America’s darkest day when almost 3,000 Americans were killed in four coordinated attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a fourth plane which went down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
‘It was gross incompetence and I hate to talk about it on this day,’ Trump said of the withdrawal from Afghanistan last month.
His visit to the precinct came after Biden was joined by former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama at the official 9/11 memorial ceremony at Ground Zero Saturday morning.
Former President George W. Bush, a Republican like Trump, attended the commemoration at the Flight 93 memorial site in Shanksville where he spoke to the family members of victims who died when the United Airlines jet crashed killing all 40 crew and passengers on board.
Donald Trump paid a visit to NYPD and FDNY officers on the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, after deciding not to make his own solo trip to Ground Zero
The former president surprised officers at NYPD’s 17th Precinct in East Midtown in Manhattan, New York City, Saturday afternoon where he posed for photos with a group of cops and held a brief question and answer session
Trump said very little about America’s darkest day and instead took aim at Joe Biden over the ’embarrassment’ of his Afghanistan withdrawal
Trump was the only surviving president not to attend any of the three crash sites or any of the official memorial ceremonies on the 20th anniversary of America’s darkest day.
Trump, who now lives at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, is scheduled to host a boxing match between Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort in Hollywood, Florida, Saturday night.
His appearance at the police precinct confirmed he had traveled to New York City for the anniversary.
He told Fox News Friday he would be attending Ground Zero in New York City at some point Saturday.
He had been expected to make a trip around 1:30pm, local law enforcement officials told the New Jersey Globe, after being informed of the plans by the Secret Service.
This timing meant he would avoid any chance of bumping into Biden who departed New York earlier Saturday to also visit Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and then the Pentagon.
His visit to the precinct took place around 1:40pm – around the time he had been touted to visit Ground Zero.
It is not clear what led Trump to change his mind about visiting the 9/11 memorial in his hometown of New York.
His spokeswoman Liz Harrington told the New York Times Saturday afternoon he was no longer planning to visit the site.
‘He had the option to attend but decided to honor the day with different stops,’ she said.
His visit to the precinct came after Biden was joined by former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama at the official 9/11 memorial ceremony at Ground Zero Saturday morning
Former President George W. Bush, a Republican like Trump, attended the commemoration at the Flight 93 memorial site in Shanksville where he spoke to the family members of victims
As well as the visit to the precinct, Harrington said he was expected to virtually speak at an evangelical event at the National Mall in Washington DC around 6:50pm.
Cops and firefighters cheered and applauded the former president during his visit Saturday afternoon, with one fan heard shouting: ‘Thank you for keeping us safe.’
In his brief address before taking questions, Trump described the anniversary as a ‘sad day’ before launching into an attack on Biden over Afghanistan.
‘It’s a sad day, a very sad day,’ he said.
‘For a lot of reasons and we just added to that reason last week as it should never have been allowed to happen.
‘I watched all the speeches and nobody mentioned what they did but we have to live with it for a period of time. It’s very disappointing.’
The former president circled back to Afghanistan later describing the Biden administration’s withdrawal as ‘gross incompetence’ and claiming his deal with ‘Abdul’ from the Taliban meant the militants were ‘on hold.’
‘They gave $85 billion [worth of equipment] away – brand new Apache helicopters. Can you believe it? They gave them away. Why would you give them away? You’d fly them out, you’d take them out,’ he said.
‘And they had all the time in the world. We had everybody on hold, the Taliban was on hold.
‘I dealt with the top guy – Abdul – and there was nothing he was going to be doing with us.’
Trump then pushed the false claims that the 2020 election was ‘rigged.’
‘All of a sudden we have a rigged election and all of a sudden we flee Afghanistan,’ he said.
‘That’s why I’m saying what timing, what horrible timing – the 20th anniversary – and I watch the speeches and not one person spoke about the fact that three days ago we fled Afghanistan and we left Americans behind and others too and we left $85billion of the best equipment ever made – much of it that I bought.’
He continued to slam the president’s handling of the withdrawal saying ‘a five-year-old would have said the military goes out last.’
‘They could have stayed there for one month or three years. They [the Taliban] weren’t going to be able to do anything but they left and when they left there was a vacuum,’ Trump said.
‘And then they came in and filled the vacuum and whoever thought of this – a five-year-old would have said the military goes out last and that’s what they [the Taliban] wanted.
‘They couldn’t believe they were leaving so it was gross incompetence and I hate to talk about it on this day but people are saying why aren’t they talking about what the hell they did.’
Trump has repeatedly laid into Biden over the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan last month.
The withdrawal was turbulent with 13 American troops and dozens of Afghans killed in a suicide attack in Kabul, while the Taliban has regained control of the country.
It was Trump who signed a peace deal with the Taliban in 2020, agreeing to pull all US troops out of the country by May 2021.
Biden pushed the deadline back first to September 11, before bringing it forward to August 31.
Trump took questions from the officers gathered, with one person asking if he was planning to run for the White House again.
‘That’s a tough question – actually for me it’s an easy question,’ he said.
‘I mean I know what I’m going to do but we’re not supposed to be talking about it yet,’ pointing to ‘ridiculous’ campaign finance laws.
‘But I think you’re going to be happy let me put it that way. I think you’re going to be very happy.’
Trump went on to praise his own record during his White House term.
‘We had the greatest economy in the world, we did things that nobody thought even possible,’ he claimed.
‘Everybody had the best jobs.’
Trump took aim at the ‘radical left’ saying ‘they couldn’t compete with what we were doing.’
He praised the officers present calling them ‘New York’s finest’ and saying they had for him in the election.
‘I’ve been given so much support by the people who do what you do,’ he said.
‘We love the blue. I’ll say it loud. You know, you’re not supposed to say that. We love the blue.’