2019-07-31 16:10:151 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Aerial view of World Trade Center collapse after 9/11 (Image source: Public domain)
As a New York billionaire, it was natural to believe Donald Trump's words when he said he donated money to a fund for 9/11 victims. However, the New York City comptroller could not find any evidence that he donated, leading him to conclude the president "may have lied."
Comptroller Scott Stringer's office reviewed the donation records of the Twin Towers Fund at the New York City Public/Private Initiatives, Inc., looking for a Trump donation of $10,000 that he has said he made.
"Contrary to Donald Trump's claims, the Comptroller's Office found no evidence of a donation by Mr. Trump in the year following the attacks," in the "Information Sheet on 9/11 Donation Review" that NBC News reviewed of the detailed findings by Stringer's office.
"As first reported by the New York Daily News, Donald Trump may have lied about donations given to the Twin Towers Fund in support of 9/11 victims and first responders," Stringer is quoted as saying on the information sheet.
"While he claimed to make a $10,000 donation to that fund, the Comptroller's review in response to Freedom of Information Law requests shows that no donation was made within a nearly 12-month window immediately following the tragedy."
The comptroller does note it is possible Trump did contribute after that one-year window, and if so, he thinks he should come forward with proof showing that he did.
The Daily News had reported that in the weeks after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Trump pledged to donate $10,000 to the Twin Towers Fund as part of the donation drive being pushed by radio host Howard Stern.
This linked back to an October 10, 2001 interview on Stern's show with Stern and co-host Robin Quivers thanking him for the donation.
"He gave us $10,000, that was beautiful," said Quivers.
Stern replied, "Yes, he did, to our fund," then went on to discuss other topics with the billionaire. He didn't say anything to the radio hosts about making a pledge, nor did he dispute that he'd given them the sizable donation.
Stern was asking people at the time to make donations to NYC Public/Private Initiatives under the name "Howard Stern Relief Fund," according to a website for the charity, as reported in the Daily News. The New York Post wrote on September 26, 2001, that Trump, "who often calls in to Stern's show, kicked in $10,000."
The night before Trump guested on Stern's show, he and Melania, who were engaged at the time, attended a benefit at Carnegie Hall for the Twin Towers Fund and the New York Police and Fire Widows and Children's Benefit Fund. Ticket prices ranged from $100 to $2500 for the event titled, "Stand Up for New York." Those who attended were told they could also make checks out to the Twin Towers Fund.
The charities were created after the 9/11 attacks as a way to raise funds to support the families of victims as well as first responders and their families.
The audit performed by the comptroller of the Twin Towers Fund covered the time between September 12, 2001, and August 31, 2002. The audit of the New York City Public/Private Initiatives, Inc. covered the time between September 12, 2001, and June 30, 2002.
Tyrone Stevens, the press secretary for the Comptroller's Office, said the office manually reviewed around 1,500 pages of donation records. These contained the names of more than 110,000 people and entities.
He believes it's very unlikely that their review missed a donation given by Trump or one of his entities since nearly all the donations were received in the months just after the attack and included information that identified the donors.
"We just don't see a donation from any Trump entity — certainly there's nothing that we can confirm from the time period covered by the audit," he added.
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