Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill topline higher than Senate's Groups push lawmakers to use defense bill to end support for Saudis in Yemen civil war Congress must address the looming debt crisis MORE (I-Vt.) on Monday questioned GOP presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE’s memories of Muslims celebrating the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“I don’t know where Mr. Trump gets his evidence,” he said, citing Trump’s recollection that thousands of Arab Americans celebrated the World Trade Center’s fall.
“I have not heard any evidence of this happening,” the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate said during an interview with CNN.
“What I get concerned about is this growth of Islamophobia in this country, this desire to win votes by scapegoating a group of people, which is not what America is supposed to be about,” Sanders added.
Sanders said he is eager for a clash with Trump during next year’s general election so that he can challenge the billionaire’s claims directly.
“There’s nothing more that I would enjoy than the chance to take on Donald Trump and to expose the many fabrications that he has brought forth,” he said.
"Donald Trump should not be president of the United States,” Sanders later added.
Trump sparked outrage over the weekend by insisting he had seen Arab Americans in New Jersey celebrating the 9/11 massacre .
“It did happen — I saw it,” Trump told host George Stephanopoulos. "It was on television [and] I saw it.
“I know it might not be politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering … as those buildings came down,” he continued. "And that tells you something. Not good.”
Rumors have long circulated that some Muslim Americans in Newark, N.J., and Paterson, N.J., applauded the attacks. Multiple local leaders and law enforcement officials, however, have disputed that version of events.
The Anti-Defamation League derided Trump’s account as “factually challenged” in a statement released Sunday.
“It is unfortunate that Donald Trump is giving new life to long-debunked conspiracy theories about 9/11,” the organization said.
Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.), meanwhile, said the same day that he has no recollection of reactions like those Trump describes.
“I think if it had happened, I would remember it, but, you know, there could be things I forget, too,” said Christie, another 2016 Republican White House hopeful. "But I don’t remember that, no.”
Ben Carson, another contender for the GOP’s nomination, defended Trump on Monday.
“I saw film of it,” the retired neurosurgeon insisted, adding that he meant news coverage aired during that time. "There are going to be people who respond inappropriately to virtually everything.”