Several prominent current and former officials all gathered at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum this morning to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. While Donald Trump did not take part in the ceremony, those in attendance included former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Jill Biden, current Vice President Mike Pence and Karen Pence, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. Former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was also spotted there, conspicuously not wearing a mask unlike the other officials.
Befitting the pandemic, Biden and Pence greeted each with elbow bumps at one point.
On his way to New York this morning, Biden told the reporters traveling with him, “I’m not going to talk about anything other than 9/11. We took all our advertising down. It’s a solemn day. That’s how we’re going to keep it.”
He was later captured in the video below stopping to speak to a 90-year-old woman in a wheelchair who held a picture of her son, who was killed on 9/11, and express sympathy for her loss.
After the ceremony, Biden headed to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 crashed after being hijacked and passengers fought back. President Trump made remarks there this morning. “Our sacred task, our righteous duty and our solemn pledge is to carry forward the noble legacy of the brave souls who gave their lives for us 19 years ago,” Trump said. “9/11, we’ll never forget.”
Trump has repeatedly and outrageously exaggerated and lied about 9/11 to fit his purposes over the years, starting on that very day when he exhibited a disturbing lack of empathy for the victims of the attack while appearing on air with WWOR. He was asked whether his building at 40 Wall Street, a 71-story building blocks away from the Twin Towers, had sustained any damage in the attacks. He proceeded to brag about how he now owned the tallest building in Lower Manhattan with the Twin Towers gone.
Today, it was revealed that the Trump administration has secretly siphoned nearly $4 million away from the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program, which is meant to cover medical services for firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has so far refused to answer questions about it.
“Here we have sick World Trade Center-exposed firefighters and EMS workers, at a time when the city is having difficult financial circumstances due to COVID-19, and we’re not getting the money we need to be able to treat these heroes,” the program’s director, Dr. David Prezant, told the Daily News. “And for years, they wouldn’t even tell us — we never ever received a letter telling us this.”
“I don’t even care what the details of this thing is," he added. "That fund has to be fully compensated, fully reimbursed. I mean, this is absurd. If anyone were true American heroes, it was the cops and firemen on 9/11, especially the firemen, and for even $1 to be being held back is absolutely indefensible.”
Because the 9/11 Memorial and Museum scrapped the live reading of the names, and kept the amount of people there limited to only family members of victims and major politicians, the nonprofit Tunnel to Towers' Foundation decided to also hold an independent ceremony at Zuccotti Park this morning in which the names were read live.
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose increasingly hate-filled post-mayoral career has been cynically built upon constantly reminding people he was mayor during 9/11, attended the Tunnel To Towers event and criticized the fact that the names were announced with pre-recorded audio at the official 9/11 Memorial. “If I was the mayor, this wouldn’t have happened," Giuliani said this morning. "They wouldn’t be allowed to hold the ceremony with pre-recorded names. I‘d take the tape recording and burn it, instead of burning the American flag, and I’d get people up and read the names.”
Giuliani has been in the news this week after the Treasury Department officially labeled Andriy Derkach “an active Russian agent for over a decade, maintaining close connections with the Russian Intelligence Services.” Derkach, who is accused of spreading disinformation about Joe Biden, has been working closely with Giuliani for months now. Giuliani, who admitted he didn't look into Derkach closely before partnering up with him, told the Times, “I have no reason to believe he is a Russian agent. There is nothing I saw that said he was a Russian agent. There is nothing he gave me that seemed to come from Russia at all.” But he added, “How the hell would I know?”
While a planned military flyover marking the anniversary of 9/11 was canceled this morning after being widely panned as tasteless and inappropriate, there were of course other questionable "tributes," including an #AllBuildingsMatter hashtag which trended on Twitter, and a couple of Trump boaters who decided today would be a good time to pass by Lower Manhattan.