Donald Trump's complicated and controversial history with 9/11

Two days after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, a reserved and calm Donald Trump was asked in an interview to explain how it was possible that "two Boeing planes would be able to destroy the Twin Towers?" Without hesitation, the billionaire businessman attributed the destruction to "tremendous amounts of fuel," saying the buildings were hit with "more than anything could take."

No blame was laid at the feet of President George W. Bush, no peddling of conspiracy theories, no claims that if he were president the attacks wouldn't have happened. Instead, Trump stood poised in front of the Manhattan backdrop and championed New Yorkers as "strong and resilient," saying "they'll rebuild quickly."

Fifteen years later, Trump's relationship with 9/11 has evolved, and now perhaps more clearly resembles the Republican presidential nominee's current campaign -- controversy-laden and with a tendency to produce more questions than answers.

The 2001 terror attacks have come up multiple times over the course of Trump's presidential campaign, with the GOP candidate's remarks usually sparking outrage.

"The World Trade Center came down during your brother's reign. Remember that," Trump said during a heated exchange with Jeb Bush at a February primary debate.

This particular incident wasn't the first time Trump implied Bush was in some way to blame for the attacks. In October 2015, Trump told Bloomberg TV, "He was president, OK? Don't blame him or don't blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign."

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Rebuilding the World Trade Center: 15 years after 9/11
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Rebuilding the World Trade Center: 15 years after 9/11

A group of firefighters walk amid rubble near the base of the destroyed south tower of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. In the worst terror attack on the U.S. mainland in modern history, two hijacked planes slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and a third plane hit the Pentagon, across the Potomac river from Washington. REUTERS/Peter Morgan

Family members of the victims of the the attacks on the World Trade Center enter Ground Zero to pay their respects, September 11, 2003 in New York. U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday commemorated the attacks with subdued events of remembrance, as his government warned of possible bigger terror attacks. REUTERS/Stephen Chernin/POOL SC/GN
People gather at the World Trade center site in New York City, September 11, 2004 on the third anniversary of the attacks on the Twin Towers. This year, it is the parents and grandparents of World Trade Center victims who will read aloud the names of those lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
Family members make their way down a ramp to the site of the former World Trade Center during ceremonies marking the fourth anniversary of the attack of the twin towers in New York September 11, 2005. Families of victims of the collapse of the World Trade Center were allowed down to two pools of water placed on the ground where the buildings once stood. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn GMH/VP
People gather around a reflecting pool at the bottom of the Ground Zero site of the World Trade Center on the fifth year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, September 11, 2006. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES)
Family members of victims pay their respects at the site of the former twin World Trade Center towers in New York September 11, 2007 on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The first steel beams of the new Freedom Tower being constructed on the site are seen in the foreground. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES)
Family members of victims pay their respects at the site of the former twin towers on the eighth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, in New York, September 11, 2009. Families of the victims are gathering at the annual ceremony to remember the attacks that killed more than 2,700 people with the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES DISASTER ANNIVERSARY)
Police and firefighters surround the reflecting pool at the World Trade Center site during 9/11 remembrance ceremonies in New York, September 11, 2010. REUTERS/Don Emmert/Pool 
The North Memorial Pool, with 1 World Trade Center under construction at rear, is pictured during ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, in New York September 11, 2011. REUTERS/Robert Deutsch/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: ANNIVERSARY DISASTER)
World Trade Center 1 looms over the north reflecting pool at the 9/11 Memorial during ceremonies marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York September 11, 2013. REUTERS/Allan Tannenbaum/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: DISASTER ANNIVERSARY)
The One World Trade Center building on the early morning of the 14th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks, on September 11, 2015 in New York.. AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCUR / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
The World Trade Center. New York.

Trump's continued indictment of the former president drew ire from many in the Republican party. Jeb Bush called Trump's comments "pathetic," saying that his brother "kept us safe."

Fellow 2016 contender at the time Ben Carson also weighed in, calling the allegations against President Bush "ridiculous to suggest."

One area, however, where Trump and Carson see eye-to-eye are the billionaire businessman's controversial claim that he witnessed "thousands" of people "cheering" in New Jersey following the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Trump claims he "watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering."

While PolitiFact and The Washington Post conducted fact checks both concluding there's little to no evidence in support of Trump, Carson corroborated the claim saying he saw "the film of it," adding that he thought Trump's remark "was an inappropriate response."

Trump hasn't backpedaled on his attacks aimed at former President Bush, or his steadfastness regarding the existence of the infamous New Jersey celebration video.

He did, however, recently delete a tweet from 2013 where he commemorated the 12th anniversary of the September 11 attacks by saying, "I would like to extend my best wishes to all, even the haters and losers, on this special date, September 11th."

Trump's team removed the controversial tweet shortly after it started making the rounds online in 2015. When asked why the tweet was deleted Trump campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks told Business Insider "it is from several years ago."


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