At a rally in South Carolina on Friday, Trump cited a 2001 article by reporter Serge Kovaleski to defend his claim that Arab-Americans in New Jersey were seen “dancing in the street” after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Kovaleski — who suffers from arthrogryposis, a chronic condition that impairs the movement of his arms — has since denounced the report.
“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 Friday, flailing his arms as he imitated Kovaleski. “This was 14 years ago – they didn’t do a retraction.”
A spokeswoman for the Times told Politico it is "outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters."
Trump responded to the newspaper with a tweet Wednesday night:
The article, written by Kovaleski for the Washington Post in 2001, 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.”
Kovaleski said he does not remember residents of New Jersey celebrating the attack.
“We did a lot of shoe-leather reporting in and around Jersey City and talked to a lot of residents and officials for the broader story,” Kovaleski told CNN on Monday. “Much of that has, indeed, faded from memory. … I do not recall anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds, of people celebrating.”
“That was not the case, as best as I can remember,” he added.
- Updated at 8:30 p.m.