- Thomson Reuters
President Donald Trump defended on Tuesday his decision to wait multiple days to condemn white-nationalist and neo-Nazi groups involved in violent clashes in Virginia, telling reporters, “before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.”
“I need the facts. I don’t want to rush into a statement,” he said at a press conference at Trump Tower in New York.
But in reality, Trump has a long history of speculating on incidents both domestic and abroad before the facts have fully emerged.
The following five moments show that when it comes to commenting on tragedy, Trump doesn’t always wait for the evidence.
In June, Trump immediately labeled a deadly incident in the Philippines a “terrorist attack,” only to be proven wrong minutes later.
Initial reports stated that an attacker set fire to Resorts World Manila casino, killing 37 people.
“It is really pretty sad what is going on throughout the world with terror,” Trump said in Washington, also referring to the incident as “the terrorist attack in Manila.”
However, officials in the Philippines quickly rejected terrorism as the reason for the attack, declaring it a suspected robbery. They eventually confirmed the attack was financially motivated.
Shooting in Paris
- REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
In April, after a gunman in Paris killed a police officer and wounded two others and a German tourist, Trump labeled the shooting a terrorist attack, even though French officials said it was too early to declare the suspect’s motive.
“That’s a terrible thing, and it’s a very, very terrible thing that’s going on in the world today,” Trump said. “But it looks like another terrorist attack. And what can you say – it just never ends.”
- Getty Images/Spencer Platt
In September 2016, after an explosion in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood injured 31 people, Trump commented publicly on the matter before local law-enforcement had released any conclusions on it.
Speaking at a campaign rally in Colorado, Trump declared the explosion was caused by a bomb – an assertion he gloated to Fox News for making before news outlets.
But Trump’s claim to accuracy on the subject soon fell apart when he linked the bombing to ISIS and speculated it had “many foreign connections.”
In reality, the bombing was committed by an Afghan-American who was not part of a terrorist group, but was believed to be influenced by Al-Qaeda.
Pulse nightclub shooting
In June 2016, a day after the deadly shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Trump gave a press conference in which he declared that the gunman was born in Afghanistan.
Trump ad-libbed the line in an otherwise scripted speech, and he missed the mark – the gunman was born in New York City.
EgyptAir Flight 804
- Thomson Reuters
Trump also rushed to blame the crash of EgyptAir Flight 804 in June on terrorism, despite a lack of evidence or public statements from investigators.
“Looks like yet another terrorist attack,” Trump tweeted less than 12 hours after the plane crashed in the Mediterranean Sea. “Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart and vigilant? Great hate and sickness!”
Although officials initially considered terrorism as a possible cause of the crash, the theory was ruled out earlier this year after officials found no traces of explosives on the remains of victims. The investigation into the cause is still ongoing.