Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made fun of a New York Times reporter's chronic illness while defending his bogus claim that "thousands" of Arabs in New Jersey celebrated the 9/11 attacks, Politico reported.
Trump mocked Serge Kovaleski during a campaign rally in South Carolina on Tuesday after calling him a "nice reporter." Kovalevski lives with arthrogryposis, a condition that causes his hand to rest at unusual angles and is characterized by joint contractures. Kovalevski was working for the Washington Post at the time of the attacks.
"You ought to see the guy," Trump said, before launching into a garish "impersonation" of Kovalevski that included random arm gesticulations. "'Uhh I don't know what I said. I don't remember.' He’s going, 'I don't remember. Maybe that's what I said.'"
Trump and his campaign have attempted to seize on Kovalevski's report in 2001 that police questioned "a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops" to justify their claims. But no video proof has been uncovered in connection to such incidents. The reporter himself said on Monday that he did not "recall anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds, of people celebrating. That was not the case, as best as I can remember."
Meanwhile, footage posted by Media Matters on Wednesday shows MSNBC host Joe Scarborough not only defending Trump's take, but laughing at the real estate mogul's crude display ridiculing Kovalevski.
Scarborough can be seen grinning widely after airing a clip of Trump's remarks, before accusing news outlets of overreacting to "one element of truth" in Trump's allegation.
Trump's campaign has not issued a comment on his remarks regarding Kovalevski. But Politico also reported that his new national campaign spokesperson, Katrina Pierson, referred to a decorated veteran appearing in a video for Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) 2012 campaign opponent as "deformed." Pierson later apologized.
Watch the footage, as posted on Wednesday, below.