Everyone knows President Donald Trump has a complicated relationship with the truth. But he flat out lied Saturday evening to justify moving forward with a campaign rally mere hours after 11 people were shot to death in a Pittsburgh synagogue. Trump said that the New York Stock Exchange reopened the day after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, when in reality it took several days for the markets to reopen.
“With what happened early today, that horrible, horrible attack in Pittsburgh, I was saying maybe I should cancel both this and that. And then I said to myself, I remembered Dick Russell, a friend of mine, great guy, he headed up the New York Stock Exchange on September 11th, and the New York Stock Exchange was open the following day,” Trump said during a campaign rally in Illinois. “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.”
That statement didn’t come out of the blue. He had repeated a less detailed distorted version of history earlier in the day during his remarks at the Future Farmers of America conference in Indianapolis. “I remember when we had the attack in Manhattan, we opened the stock exchange the next day,” Trump said. “People were shocked.”
Trump’s version of history sounds pretty incredible. But it just isn’t true. Both the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq were closed until Monday, Sept. 17, which marked the longest closing of the markets since 1933. The U.S. exchanges were hardly alone as other markets around the world were closed as well. “It’s easy to figure this out using Google,” notes the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler. “There’s even a whole Wikipedia page.”
It isn’t just dates that Trump got wrong in his little tale, but also names. While the president referenced “Dick Russell, a friend of mine,” the head of the NYSE at the time was actually named Dick Grasso. Dick Russell was a senator from Georgia who defended segregation.
Although his story wasn’t as detailed, Trump also seemed to suggest something about baseball games after Sept. 11 that simply doesn’t line up with what actually happened. “Remember the teams, the Yankees, George Steinbrenner,” Trump said. “He said we have got to play, even if nobody comes, nobody shows up, we have got to play.” Although he doesn’t actually say it, the implication of Trump’s statement is that baseball didn’t put its games on pause after the attacks. But, in fact professional baseball also didn’t start up again until Sept. 17.
Trump, of course, has a history of misremembering events around the Sept. 11 attacks. During his presidential campaign, Trump infamously said he saw “thousands and thousands of people” celebrating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in an area of New Jersey that has a “large Arab” community.