Trump denies mocking disabled reporter

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GOP presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump to lay out first 100 days in Gettysburg speech GOP senator: Dems making ‘concerted effort to produce fraudulent votes’ Trump touts Navy expansion proposal in Pa. MORE says he does not know the disabled New York Times reporter he is accused of mocking.

“I have no idea who this reporter, Serge Kovaleski is, what he looks like or his level of intelligence,” Trump said in a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday. “I don’t know if he’s J.J. Watt or Muhammad Ali in his prime – or somebody of less athletic or physical ability.”

Trump cited an article written by Kovaleski in 2001, when he wrote for The Washington Post, that appeared to corroborate the businessman’s story of seeing Arab-Americans in New Jersey celebrating as the World Trade Center towers came down.

After Kovaleski, who suffers from a chronic condition that impairs the movement of his arms, went on CNN to renounce the report, Trump appeared to mimic the journalist on stage at a South Carolina rally.

“Now the poor guy, you gotta see this guy: ‘Uhh, I don’t know what I said. I don’t remember.’ He’s going, ‘I don’t remember. Maybe that’s what I said,’ ” Trump said at the rally, flailing his arms as he imitated Kovaleski. “That was 14 years ago – they didn’t issue a retraction.”

The New York Times said it is “outrageous” that Trump would “ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters."

But Trump now claims that he has no idea what Kovaleski looks like.

“In my speech before over 10,000 people in Myrtle Beach, SC, I merely mimicked what I thought would be a flustered reporter trying to get out of a statement he made long ago,” Trump said in the statement. “If Mr. Kovaleski is handicapped, I would not know because I do not know what he looks like.”

The 2001 Kovaleski report read in part: “Law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.”

Trump has used the article to bolster his claim that Arab-Americans were “dancing in the streets” after the 9/11 terrorist attack.

--This report was updated at 3:21 p.m.