Was Donald Trump, who says he has the world's greatest memory, telling the truth when he says he never met the physically disabled reporter he mocked onstage to thousands of people?
Donald Trump's lie that "thousands and thousands" of Muslim Americans in Jersey City, New Jersey, cheered and celebrated the 9/11 attacks has been thoroughly debunked, especially by a New York Times reporter whose own words Trump is now using to try to vindicate himself.
Serge F. Kovaleski on Sept. 11, 2001, was a reporter for The Washington Post and wrote about police interviewing people accused of allegedly celebrating the attacks that day. None of those accusations or reports turned out to be true, and Kovaleski said so in a New York Times interview.
On Tuesday, Trump mocked Kovaleski, apparently imitating the symptoms of the reporter's physical disability, arthrogryposis, which the Times says "limits the functioning of his joints."
“Now the poor guy, you ought to see this guy,” Trump told thousands of supporters in South Carolina."'Ah, I don’t know what I said! I don’t remember!,'" the GOP presidential frontrunner said, jerking his arms, especially his right arm, in a manner depicting Kovaleski's disability.
In the video, the mocking seems clear:
Trump claims he never met Kovaleski, and after the Times called Trump's mocking of their reporter "despicable," Trump issued a statement.
“I have no idea who this reporter, Serge Kovalski [sic] is, what he looks like or his level of intelligence. I don’t know if he is J.J. Watt or Muhammad Ali in his prime — or somebody of less athletic or physical ability,” Trump said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Despite having one of the all-time great memories I certainly do not remember him.”
Kovaleski, who was also a reporter for the New York Daily News from 1987 to 1993, disagrees.
“Donald and I were on a first-name basis for years,” Kovaleski told the Times.
“I’ve interviewed him in his office,” he added. “I’ve talked to him at press conferences. All in all, I would say around a dozen times, I’ve interacted with him as a reporter while I was at The Daily News.”
The Post notes this isn't Trump's first time mocking a journalist.
In July, Trump attacked columnists Jonah Goldberg and Charles Krauthammer. Krauthammer, who is paralyzed from the waist down, had called Trump "rodeo clown."
“I get called by a guy that can’t buy a pair of pants, I get called names?,” Trump responded.
While some critics believe Trump was referring to Krauthammer, he says Trump was referring to Goldberg.