Rolling Stone magazine paints a picture of how Donald Trump may have exploited the tragedy in the aftermath of 9/11 for his own gain, all the while Hillary Clinton, then a freshly minted Senator from New York, worked tirelessly to support the recovery and the victims’ families.
Rolling Stone on Hillary’s activities in the months and years following 9/11:
On 9/11, Clinton had been New York’s junior senator for eight months. There are photos of her, ashen-faced, wrapped in a trench coat, surveying the damage at Ground Zero. The events that day would come to define her two terms in Congress, informing her votes on the the Iraq War and the PATRIOT Act, which dramatically expanded the government’s ability to conduct surveillance without warrants, among other things.
In the years that followed, she was instrumental in crafting legislation addressing health care needs for first responders and called hearings to discern whether the White House and EPA intentionally misled New Yorkers on the safety of the air quality at Ground Zero. But in the immediate days and weeks after the attacks, she spent her time spearheading, with fellow New York senator Chuck Schumer, a furious lobbying effort to get federal funding for recovery efforts.
In January 2002, four months after the attacks, Clinton and Schumer stood in the White House Rose Garden, where George W. Bush thanked them for their work as he signed into law a budget containing some $20 billion in dedicated funding for New York’s recovery.
Rolling Stone went on to report the the following about Trump’s involvement:
A not-insignificant chunk of that federal funding, $2 billion, was earmarked for distribution by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Empire State Development Corporation. About a quarter of that – some $500 million – was explicitly set aside for helping small businesses in the area recover. Among the 8,214 early recipients was 40 Wall Street LLC, the most valuable building in Donald Trump’s portfolio of properties, a skyscraper that sits less than a mile from Ground Zero. (An additional $350 million was later allocated to the same cause, bringing the total number of businesses impacted to more than 14,000.)
Trump applied for and accepted the money, despite the fact that – as he acknowledged in an interview with a German news show immediately after the attacks – the property “wasn’t, fortunately, affected by what happened to the World Trade Center.”
Technically, 40 Wall Street LLC (if not its parent company, the Trump Organization) did meet the criteria for the funds: It had fewer than 500 employees, and was located south of 14th Street. And, as the agency that administered the funds said, eligibility wasn’t necessarily determined based on damage incurred; rather, the goal was “to keep businesses and jobs from deserting the city and moving to other States or overseas.”
Still, Trump’s decision to take in recovery funds left some with a bad taste in their mouths. The New York Daily News ran an exposé on the subject in 2006, and earlier this year Rep. Jerrold Nadler, whose district includes Ground Zero, wrote an open letter to Trump demanding he return the money.
“In grabbing that money with both fists, you took it out of the pockets of small business owners in New York who were truly hurting,” Nadler wrote to Trump in May. “Your exploitation of our bravest and most generous citizens shows us all we need to know about what lies within your heart.”