On the day a gunman killed 11 and wounded six others in a Pittsburgh synagogue, President Donald Trump twice defended his decision to hold a scheduled campaign rally by pointing to a rapid reopening of the New York Stock Exchange after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
It did not happen the way he described.
Trump first mentioned this rationale in an Oct. 27 address to the Future Farmers of America conference in Indianapolis:
"I remember when we had the attack in Manhattan. We opened that stock exchange the next day; people were shocked. A great group of people — the head of the New York Stock Exchange is just a fantastic guy — Dick (Grasso). And he opened it up."
Later that day, Trump kept his promise to hold a rally in Murphysboro, Ill. He repeated the anecdote in that address:
"With what happened early today, that horrible, horrible attack in Pittsburgh, I was saying maybe I should cancel both this and that (the speech in Indianapolis). And then I said to myself, I remember Dick Grasso, a friend of mine, great guy. He headed up the New York Stock Exchange on Sept. 11. And the New York Stock Exchange was open the following day. He said — and what they had to do to open it, you wouldn't believe. We won't even talk to you about it, but he got that exchange open. We can't make these sick, demented, evil people important."
Here’s what really happened.
The New York Stock Exchange didn’t open on the morning of the attacks, which hit the World Trade Center a few blocks away.
The exchange building wasn't directly damaged, the Associated Press reported at the time, but "the surrounding neighborhood was littered with debris."
The stock exchange didn’t open again until Sept. 17, 2001. Even a week after the attacks, conditions were hardly normal.
At that point "rescue workers continued to search for survivors amid smoldering rubble," the AP reported, and "the smell of smoke still (hung) in the air — even permeating the NYSE trading floor."
Trump does accurately remember Grasso’s involvement.
As he rang the opening bell on Sept. 17, Grasso said, "Today, America goes back to business. We do it as a signal to those criminals who inflicted this heinous crime on America and all Americans, they have lost."
According to the New York Times, "traders took subways instead of limousines, trudged on foot from the Staten Island Ferry, and began lining up at 7:30 outside the exchange to have their bags searched and ID tags checked."
The White House did not respond to an inquiry for this article.
Trump said he didn't cancel a political rally because after the 9/11 attacks, "the New York Stock Exchange was open the following day." It wasn’t; the exchange didn’t open until a week later, on Sept. 17. We rate the statement False.'
Donald Trump, remarks in Murphysboro, Ill., Oct. 27, 2018
Donald Trump, remarks in Indianapolis, Oct. 27, 2018
CBS News, "Feds seek death penalty against Pittsburgh shooting suspect," Oct. 29, 2018
Washington Post Fact Checker, "No, President Trump, the NYSE did not open the day after the Sept. 11 attacks," Oct. 27, 2018
Congressional Research Service, "The Economic Effects of 9/11: A Retrospective Assessment," Sept. 27, 2002
Associated Press, "Wall Street takes a pounding in emotional reopening; biggest one-day Dow point loss," Sept. 18, 2001 (accessed via Nexis)
New York Times, "Wall Street Returns to Work, Finding Good in Falling Prices," September 18, 2001 (accessed via Nexis)
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