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2004 Time Mag Report – Trump was in Chicago on 9-11? Unlikely

2004 Time Mag Report – Trump was in Chicago on 9-11? Unlikely

Trump says he witnessed the attack from his apartment in Manhattan.

[See the UPDATE at the end of this post, which indicates that the information published in the Time article was most likely incorrect.]

Donald Trump has said repeatedly that on the morning of 9/11 he watched the burning World Trade Center towers from his midtown Manhattan apartment.

One controversial aspect of his claim is that he could see people jumping from the WTC as he watched from his apartment, which is four miles away. Some experts doubt that is feasible. But no one has disputed that Trump was in NY that morning.

Here is Trump talking about 9/11, and mentioning that he was in his apartment at the time:

Donald Trump may certainly be telling the truth about where he was that morning. But late last night, after a tip in a comment, I found an article about skyscrapers that appeared in Time magazine on December 20, 2004, Going Up … and Up: When Height Is All That Matters.

At the start of the Time article was this intriguing paragraph (emphasis added):

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Adrian D. Smith, a well-known architect in the Chicago office of Skidmore Owings & Merrill, was in a meeting with Donald Trump. The hyperbolic New York City developer was in Chicago to go over the design of a proposed Trump residential tower in that city that he had decided should be — what else? — the tallest building in the world, around 2,000 ft. In the midst of their meeting, the two men got word of the first plane that hit the World Trade Center.When the second plane hit, we all rushed to the television to see what was happening,” says Smith. “That was the end of the meeting.” And also the end of the 2,000-ft. tower. A few weeks later, Trump’s people came back with a revised proposal — at 900 ft. or so.,9171,1009881,00.html

The 2004 Time magazine report raises a potentially troubling and politically embarrassing problem for Trump unless there is independent proof as to where Trump was on the morning of September 11, 2001.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon. This post also appears, in a different format with other details, at her website]

[UPDATE 7:15 AM: A commenter has managed to find an article written in 2002 that contradicts the information in the Time article. It reports [emphasis added]:

Adrian Smith recalls where he was on the morning of 9/11. In what can only be described as sickening irony, he was with representatives of Donald Trump, preparing to go live with a press conference to unveil his new design for Trump Chicago…

In addition, there is this video interview of Trump on German TV, which according to YouTube was taken on September 13, 2001. Although it’s not clear that date is correct, and although it is reported that flights resumed on September 13, 2001, it seems that the bulk of the information available so far tends to favor the veracity of Trump’s account over that of the article in Time. I conclude that the likelihood is that the meeting in Chicago was with Trump’s representatives, rather than with Trump himself as Time had reported.]


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NC Mountain Girl | February 20, 2016 at 4:32 am

The tallest building in the world is the ticket to immortality for an architect. That makes me suspect his memory of the incident is accurate. It also should have been a truly memorable trip for Trump as his jet would have been grounded for several days. When did air traffic return? Was it Thursday or Friday?

    tarheelkate in reply to NC Mountain Girl. | February 20, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    I have no idea what’s true here, but if Trump wanted to return to New York from Chicago when his jet was grounded he could easily have hired a car and driver. Many people stranded around the country did rent and drive.

I don’t know where Trump was on 9/11, but I’m guessing everyone that was an adult on that day (and many who were children), has strong memories of where they were, down to the minute they heard the news and where they watched the TV coverage. I know exactly where I was, but many kinds of my LT memory are pretty sharp. Trump’s may not be.

But that does bring up that there are different kinds of long-term memory, and Trump’s episodic memory, and particularly what is known as “flashbulb memory” (see link below) may not be accurate. Studies have shown he would not be alone in that regard. Details of such an event may be spotty, or he may blend details of such a memory together.

“One specific type of autobiographical memory is known as a ‘flashbulb memory’, a highly detailed, exceptionally vivid ‘snapshot’ of a moment or circumstances in which surprising and consequential (or emotionally arousing) news was heard, famous examples being the assassination of John Kennedy, the terrorist bombings on 9/11, etc. Such memories are believed by some to be highly resistant to forgetting, possibly due to the strong emotions that are typically associated with them. However, a number of studies also suggest that flashbulb memories are actually not especially accurate, despite apparently being experienced with great vividness and confidence.”

PSA: I’m not a Trump supporter.

That TIME magazine article is incorrect. I personally know a fashion photographer that actually visited with Trump on September 11 2001, In New York City. It was In the middle of Fashion week in New York when the terror attack happened. Impossible for him to have been in Chicago that morning because there would have been no way for him to return back into New York City by the afternoon because ALL air travel was forbidden.

“Meeting” doesn’t mean that they were even in the same office, let alone the same city.

As much as I would love proof of yet another Trump lie, I am not sure if he was actually in Chicago, or his representatives were.

“Trump’s people met in Chicago with architects from the legendary firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill…

“Many years and many buildings later, Adrian Smith recalls where he was on the morning of 9/11. In what can only be described as sickening irony, he was with representatives of Donald Trump, preparing to go live with a press conference to unveil his new design for Trump Chicago…”

Larry King interview Feb 2004:

KING: Where were you on 9/11?

TRUMP: I was home watching a certain show, where Jack Welch, who’s a great guy, was being interviewed. And they interrupted the program to say that this had happened. It was, you know, 8:45 or so in the morning, and I was listening to Jack, who I love. I think he’s a great guy. And I’m saying, What’s this? And they showed a picture of the World Trade Center with this incredible flame pouring out of the side. And you know, you knew it couldn’t be a boiler. That’s down in the basement. You know, you’re saying, What is this? What could be possibly this? And of course, as the second plane hit, which I witnessed because the building I was in was very high and looked directly at the World Trade Center, you said, Well, now you know what it is. But what a terrible, terrible period of time that was. Ever.

Not sure which version is correct. I know exactly where I was and what happened on that day.

    gulfbreeze in reply to sarainitaly. | February 20, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Good research, sarainitaly. Kudos for your integrity and search for truth.

    MaggotAtBroadAndWall in reply to sarainitaly. | February 20, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Trump is lying again. I was working as a corporate credit analyst that day. Our firm had a TV suspended from the ceiling that was always tuned to CNBC. Jack Welch, the great guy who Trump loves, had recently retired from GE. He was scheduled to be a guest on CNBC that morning at 9:00. The first plane hit at around 8:45 as Trump stated. But Jack Welch, the great guy who Trump loves, was not being interviewed when the plane hit. Within a minute or two after that plane hit, CNBC cut away from its scheduled programming to cover the smoke (not fire) coming from the WTC north tower. They never returned to regular programming. The VERY FIRST thing they said as they broke from regular programming to cover the smoke coming from the WTC was that they had gotten reports that the tower had been hit by a plane. There was never any speculation about Trump’s imaginary boiler or any other cause.

    From the moment CNBC broke away from regular programming, the only people to speak were CNBC reporters and people giving eye witness accounts. Jack Welch, the great guy who Trump loves, was never interviewed. At least not until after the first plane hit; the second plane hit; the Pentagon was hit; the South Tower collapsed; GWB gave his address from Florida that the country was under attack; the FAA had grounded all flights; or the White House and Capitol had been evacuated. Maybe Jack Welch the great guy who Trump loves was asked to give a comment after all of those events, but he did not uttered a word nor appear on camera prior to any of those events.

    Watch for yourself. CNBC has made all of its programming from that day available on Youtube. It’s about 56 videos each about 9-10 minutes in duration. This is the second one in that series. At about 0:50 seconds into it (which according to the time on the “bug” displaying how stock futures are trading is 8:45ET), the CNBC anchor Mark Haines promotes that Jack Welch, the great guy who Trump loves, will be appearing as a guest at the top of the hour. Except he never appears at the top of the hour because at about the 4:30 mark in the video (the time on the “bug” is now 8:50ET), CNBC breaks away from regular programming to start covering the attack. They say from the very beginning it was a plane. Nobody ever mentioned Trump’s imaginary boiler theory or anything else as a possible cause. Trump just makes stuff up and spouts whatever pops into his head.

      Thank you for posting the CNBC broadcast link. I was in France on vacation on 9/11/01 and did not see this live. Now I have seen what my friends and family saw as it happened.

Plus There Is a Video Of Trump at Ground Zero The Day after the attacks. There is NO WAY he could have been in Chicago because there were NO flights Into New York No Matter Who you were for about 3 days. Forbidden and restricted and impossible!

Neo, let me ask you one question:

Have you EVER read a single media report on ANYTHING on which you had direct personal knowledge, that did NOT contain at least one major factual error (and, more likely, one major factual error PER SENTENCE)?

Of course you haven’t. That’s because the press is consistently sloppy and lazy and gets basic factds wrong all the time. I put no stock whatsoever in Time magazine’s reportage that Trump was physically present in Chicago on 9/11/2001, and neither should you.

    Lee Jan in reply to JPL17. | February 20, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    Interesting that we are finally realizing that Trump tells lies so nothing he says can be taken at face value. Since his apt. is 4 miles from the WTC it is highly unlikely he saw people jumping, nor did he have hundreds of ‘friends’ who died that day. Hundreds of ‘friends’?????? Aside from his family are their any friends who aren’t paid for their services.

If all you have is one article from Time written 3 years later you should probably pull this post until you can do some fact checking.

I have updated the post to reflect additional information that supports a conclusion that the Time magazine article may have been in error.

My guess is that the author of the Time article got confused and reported that Trump himself had been with the architect at that meeting, when actually it was more likely to have been Trump’s representatives only.


The post reported that there was such an article in Time, But the post took no position on the truth or falsehood of the article, and in fact stated, “Donald Trump may certainly be telling the truth about where he was that morning.”

As additional information that was not uncovered in an initial search emerged, the post has been corrected. And unless there is further contradictory information, I conclude that the bulk of the evidence indicates that Trump was in fact telling the truth and Time was mistaken in its report on Trump’s whereabouts.

    myiq2xu in reply to neo-neocon. | February 20, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Thank you. I am not a Trump fan, but I do care about facts and evidence. This blog has developed a well-earned reputation for high standards of honesty and integrity consistent with the legal profession.

    Too many people (in other places) are running wild with rumors and distortions based upon which candidates they favor and disfavor. It’s nice to have a place to go where one can get reliable information and well-reasoned opinion.

      Ragspierre in reply to myiq2xu. | February 20, 2016 at 10:38 am

      But since when is it “bad” to report on a new piece of information AS a new piece of information, AND to investigate that in a public forum?

      I think that’s GOOD, and we should all be involved in that.

      I think the opposite is several species of censorship. And I think THAT is bad.

Michael Muscat | February 20, 2016 at 8:01 am

Swing and a miss. Poor form.

I don’t really care where Trump was on 9/11. My only concern is that the boorish blowhard is not in the White House on Jan 20th, 2017….

It’s OK to report what a MSM story had to say, because these stories have enormous reach, and they are taken as gospel truth by partisans. It is just as valuable to report on, and later scotch, a bad story as it is to get it right in the first place.

Trump tells a good story, and he does engage in puffing, which seems to be the American way of negotiation. He does over-simplify and make context-sensitive statements, which are bound to result in a course of action different from what some questioners will expect. I haven’t caught him in an outright factual lie, though.

My unease with The Donald has to do with his clearly stated independence from all advice. He has essentially stated that, as President, he will do what he damn well pleases, because he does not need anybody’s support. I don’t see that as a good thing.

Falsus in unum, falsus in omnibus
My vague recollection was that someone else started planning building the tallest building in the world at Chicago, but they gave up and Trump came in with his plans, which I seem to remember did not even try to be the tallest building.

So I checked Wikipedia. Sure enough Trump was planning on building the tallest building but gave up on that after Sep 11.

But the Wikipedia article also says the building was 1100+ ft not the 900+ ft the article says. Guess this reporter was not too concerned with getting the details right.

    Ragspierre in reply to HandyGandy. | February 20, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Stupidus in unum, stupidus in omnibus

    Only a true moron would suggest that Wiki was a superior…rather infallible…source for factual accounts.

    Your bullshit is becoming legion. Like your crap the other day about petroleum running out and the world needing more wind and solar.

    You’re a OccupyWhatever “thinker”.

      HandyGandy in reply to Ragspierre. | February 20, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      Attention all refuges from HotAir.
      I think you should received fair warning before you settle your hat here. You say one thing to contradict this Ragspierre and this is what happens to you.

      Hell. All you have to do is show he was wrong and he lights up. I made a comment that the Taxi vs Uber debate was going to be moot, because we would soon see “robo-taxis”. He came back with insults and statements that it would not happen. I came back with links showing that self-driving cars are going to be on the roads soon. Result. No rational argument. I don’t think he is capable of rational argument. Just more insults.

      Don’t think this is just because of the primaries. Yes the primaries make him behave worse. But before the primaries he still acted like a guy who belongs in a padded cell, now he acts like a guy who belongs in a straight jacket in a padded cell.

      Don’t think this will go away. Jacobson hassaid he will not moderate the comments. This is especially true of Ragspierre
      who he gives free reign, but he doesn’t stop other people either.

      Now to set the record straight. I don’t take Wiki as the be all and end all of knowledge. I do however see it as a good start. I also don’t find it to be that bad when it comes to basic facts ie length of the Mississippi , height of Trump Towers etc. In fact I double checked and it seems that Wiki is conservative there,, maybe they don’t include the spire.

      I also have never advocated wind or solar. I think they might be good for some people. Like guys living in the desert, but I am a big fan of increased research into fission, including Thorium Salt reactors. I’ve known several people who worked at research which would have made design much safer, before Clinton cut funding. I’m also a big fan of fusion, though cold fusion is almost a complete sham.

      And I don’t think it makes much difference to the oil industry if we use oil for fuel. We still need it big time for our petrochemical industry, plastics, resins, etc.

        Ragspierre in reply to HandyGandy. | February 20, 2016 at 3:48 pm

        Sorry, honey, but if you imagine you could come here and plaster your faux-didactic bullshit here without opposition, you really are loopy.

        You can’t.

Trumph was in NY values. His mouth was in Chicago.

I’m not sure the point of this post, even if true. Which it’s not.

This is beneath LI, Neo-neocon (whom I greatly respect), and the commentary here at LI that gives rise to this sort of thing.

The fair minded intellectuals that comment at LI have a duty to quell TMZ style reporting, and hair-on-fire commetary.

That is, unless you want “just another blog”.

    tarheelkate in reply to Browndog. | February 20, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    The original post was to a TIME magazine report. This at least used to be considered a reputable source, not TMZ style. The post has been updated and corrected as more information was received. What more do you want?

      Browndog in reply to tarheelkate. | February 20, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      Ho about not grabbing every disparaging headline you see and post it here in pursuit of your personal agenda?

      Further, when was the last time Time was a reputable new source??

      Go bark up another tree.

      Point is, Neo knows better.

      You, obviously don’t.

        tarheelkate in reply to Browndog. | February 20, 2016 at 7:11 pm

        As the post title indicates, this was from TIME magazine twelve years ago. They appear to have gotten it wrong, but only after some further digging was that conclusion reachable. You accuse Neo of knee-jerk anti-Trump bias while deploying pro-Trump bias yourself.

        As a comment above indicates, Trump’s memory is not quite right. He wasn’t watching an interview with Jack Welch on TV when the planes hit. (I watched the CNBC MP3 links. No Welch.) But many times accounts of traumatic events vary in minor details. I presume he tuned into CNBC to watch the interview which was supposed to happen, and then the events took over, and he forgot that he never saw Welch. Not a serious inconsistency at all.

I think that we can all agree that Trump was not lying.

This time . . .

Well, this post redounds to Trump’s credibility, does it not?

I dare say, Trump lies the least of most of the GOP candidates and both of the Democrat candidates.

Yawn! Just the start of trying to find anything to stop
Trump. This week he took on W and the Pope. Who won?
A hint it was not w or the Pope.

Just give him the keys to the White House now.

Trump 2016!

Actually Trump should be glad that he was in Chicago. Think about it for a moment, with his business dealings and connections I would bet that he spent a good deal of time in the twin towers. Which means if he had been in New York there is a chance he could have been in the towers when the planes hit. That’s kind of scary.