In the wake of recent claims by Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson suggesting they remember seeing celebrations in New Jersey after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Donald DiFrancesco -- who was governor of New Jersey at the time -- has spoken out.
“I never heard anything like that. I have no recollection of it and no one that I talk to has any recollection of it,” said DiFrancesco, 71, a Republican who served as governor from 2001 to 2002. “I think I would have known if it happened.”
DiFrancesco told ABC News that on the day of the attacks he was at Liberty State Park in Jersey City.
“I guess, if two or three people did something somewhere, maybe it’s possible,” he added. “But no, not thousands, no. I would have [had] to send people over there to handle security if that were happening.”
DiFrancesco’s comments come just days after Trump first shared with supporters in Alabama his recollections from that day.
“I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down,” Trump said in a speech on national security on Saturday. “Thousands of people were cheering.”
DiFrancesco said “it is possible that two or three people in Paterson ... may have been doing something. But we didn’t get any feedback like that at all.”
The real estate mogul also stood by his claim on Sunday on ABC News' “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos.
“It was well covered at the time, George,” Trump said. “There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down.”
A Washington Post fact-checker called Trump’s claim “outrageous” and the independent fact-checking website, PolitiFact, concluded that Trump’s statement “flies in the face of all the evidence we could find.”
Carson, a fellow GOP presidential candidate, told reporters on Monday he too saw a video of American Muslims cheering on Sept. 11.
When ABC News asked if he heard or saw American Muslims cheering, Carson said “Yes.”
“I saw the film of it yeah,” Carson responded when asked if he specifically saw it happening.
But hours later, his campaign apologized for the remarks, saying he "doesn't stand behind" them and that they were "a mistake."
"He doesn't stand behind his comments to New Jersey and American Muslims," campaign spokesman Doug Watts said. "He was rather thinking of the protests going on in the Middle East and some of the demonstrations that we're going on in celebration of the towers going down."