Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump denied on Thursday he was mocking the physical disability of a New York Times reporter during a campaign speech in which he flailed his arms and distorted his speech in an imitation of the journalist.
The latest uproar over Trump’s behavior on the campaign trail was ignited by remarks the billionaire real-estate tycoon and former reality-TV star made during a South Carolina rally on Tuesday about the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center.
Trump, front-runner for his party’s nomination for the November, 2016 election, was defending his unsubstantiated assertions that thousands of Muslims were seen in New Jersey cheering the collapse of the Twin Towers. During the speech, he singled out Times investigative reporter Serge Kovaleski for a story he wrote a few days after the attacks while he was then a Washington Post correspondent.
That article reported authorities had detained “a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.” Those accounts have never been authenticated.
Kovaleski himself said in a recent CNN interview that he did “not recall anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds of people celebrating. That was not the case, as best I can remember.”
While not referring to Kovaleski by name in his speech, Trump accused the reporter of backing down from his own story.
“Now, the poor guy – you’ve got to see this guy. ‘Ah, I don’t know…