The GOP candidate was asserted to have actually performed an unflattering impression of Serge Kovaleski, who suffers native a congenital share condition, at a south Carolina rally.

You are watching: Debunking that trump mocked the disabled reporter

Published28 July 2016

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In November 2015, quickly after a series of coordinated terrorist attacks arisen in Paris, France, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to be on the project trail in Alabama. Trumped referenced the Paris assaults by invoking the 9/11 terrorist assault on brand-new York in 2001, in the procedure not only repeating the long because debunked insurance claim that crowds that “Arabs” (or “Muslims” or “Palestinians”) were seen in regional streets cheering the attack, but claiming that he had personally observed the phenomenon:

I watched once the human being Trade facility came tumbling down. And also I watched in Jersey City, brand-new Jersey, wherein thousands and also thousands of human being were cheering together that structure was comes down. Thousands of civilization were cheering.

Shortly afterwards, defending his remarks throughout an appearance on This Week through George Stephanopoulos, trump maintained:

There were human being that to be cheering on the other side of new Jersey, whereby you have big Arab populations. They to be cheering together the world Trade center came down. I recognize it can be no politically correct for you to talk about it, however there were human being cheering together that building came under — as those structures came down. And also that tells you something. It to be well spanned at the time, George. Now, I recognize they don’t favor to talk about it, but it was well extended at the time. Over there were people over in new Jersey that were the town hall it, a heavy Arab population, the were cheering together the buildings came down. Not good.

After trumped was commonly criticized because that attempting to pass off an metropolitan legend as fact, the candidate responded by citing as proof of his insurance claim an 18 September 2001 Washington Post article by reporter Serge Kovaleski the made passing reference to “people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks”:

In Jersey City, within hours of two jetliners’ plowing into the civilization Trade Center, legislation enforcement authorities detained and also questioned a variety of people that were allegedly viewed celebrating the attacks and also holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.


When Kovaleski stated that there to be never any kind of reports (not even unsubstantiated ones) the “thousands” or also “hundreds” of human being celebrating the 9/11 assaults in the brand-new York area, as Trump asserted to have actually witnessed, trump countered v a retort in which he criticized the reporter for attempting to “back away” from his vault article and also seemingly mocked Kovaleski’s physics appearance.

Serge Kovaleski suffers indigenous arthrogryposis, a condition which borders the motion of joints and also is specifically noticeable in Kovaleski’s best arm and hand. After referring to Kovaleski as “a pretty reporter,” trump card launched into an impression the him, pointedly flopping his best arm approximately with his hand hosted at an odd edge while speak (in imitation the Kovaleski): “Now, the bad guy, you’ve acquired to check out this guy: ‘Uhh, ns don’t know what ns said. Uhh, ns don’t remember,’ he’s going like ‘I nothing remember. Possibly that’s what i said"”:

After trump card then came to be the center of a second, also bigger dispute for supposedly having actually callously mocked a disabled reporter in public (that Trump was mocking Kovaleski was undeniable, but whether that was specifically mocking Kovaleski’s appearance and also disability to be a topic of debate), trump asserted the the whole thing was just a coincidence — he had no idea who Kovaleski was and also thus couldn’t have been mindful of his physical condition:

I have no idea who this reporter, Serge Kovalski , is, what that looks choose or his level the intelligence. Ns don’t understand if that is J.J. Watt or Muhammad Ali in his element or someone of much less athletic or physics ability. Regardless of having among the all-time great memories, I absolutely do not remember him.

I merely mimicked what I assumed would be a flustered reporter do the efforts to obtain out that a statement the made long ago. If Mr. Kovaleski is handicapped, I would not know because I perform not understand what that looks like. If ns did know, i would absolutely not speak anything about his appearance.

Trump’s cases to non-memory were widely considered to be disingenuous, as Kovaleski had actually covered Trump broadly while working for the Daily News from 1987 come 1993 and had interviewed and talked come the service magnate plenty of times throughout that period:

Donald and I were on a first-name basis for years. I have interviewed that in his office. I’ve talked come him at press conferences. Every in all, I would say around a dozen times, I’ve connected with him as a reporter while i was at The daily News.

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The New York Times, Kovaleski’s current employer, said in a statement that “We think that outrageous the would certainly ridicule the appearance of among our reporters.” Trump responded in acquainted fashion, issuing a series of tweets in which that admonished Kovaleski to “stop utilizing his impairment to grandstand” and repeatedly disparaged the Times:

Somebody in ~ the financially failing and totally biased brand-new York Times claimed that, end the years, I have met Mr. Kovaleski. Serge Kovaleski need to think a lot of himself if he thinks i remember the from decades ago — if I ever before met him in ~ all, which ns doubt ns did. He have to stop using his handicap to grandstand get ago to reporting because that a record that is rapidly going under the tubes.