Three late-night comedians doubted President Donald Trump’s claim that he would go inside the Florida high school unarmed if he was present during the tragic Valentine’s Day massacre.
But a little-known story about Trump confronting an armed mugger during a violent attack in New York City in 1991 may put the doubts to rest.
Comedians Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, and Trevor Noah joked about comments Trump made to state governors at the White House. The president made the remarks in connection to the school security officer who remained outside the school while the gunman inside killed 17 people.
“I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon,” Trump said on Monday.
Colbert, Meyers, and Noah doubted Trump’s bravery and physical fitness, but despite their skepticism, the president’s claim matches his behavior during a violent mugging described in a Nov. 20, 1991, Daily News article.
The original article, “Mugger’s Trumped: Donald stops attack,” written by Daily News staff writer James Rosen, is now only available from Philly.com archives, but images of it are circulating on the web.
“I’m not looking to play this thing up,” Trump said in the Nov. 20, 1991, report. “I’m surprised you found out about it.”
In the incident, Trump ordered his driver to pull over after he saw “a big guy with a big bat” bashing another person.
“Someone in the car looked over and said, ‘Gee, look at that, it’s a mugging,’” Trump said. “I said to my driver to stop the car because it was brutal-looking.”
Witnesses told the Daily News that Trump got out of his black stretch limousine on Monday during the assault in Manhattan. Marla Maples, who was married to Trump in the 90s, was seen grabbing his arm.
“The guy with the bat looked at me, and I said, ‘Look, you’ve gotta stop this. Put down the bat,’” Trump said. “I guess he recognized me because he said, ‘Mr. Trump, I didn’t do anything wrong.’ I said, ‘How could you not do anything wrong when you’re whacking a guy with a bat?’ Then he ran away.”
Kathleen Romeo, a student at the time, said a bunch of people cried, “There’s Trump!” when he got out.
“A lot of people were surprised that he got out to see what was happening,” Romeo said, adding that the bat-wielder ran off right before he appeared. Trump then “just looked around and went back into his limo,” she said.
But another witness supported Trump.
“All of a sudden, a big long limousine pulls up on an angle, and Donald Trump pops out with the blond, too,” the unnamed witness added. “There was a guy with a bat, hitting a guy over the head, and Trump yelled, ‘Put that bat down. What are you doing?’ The guy dropped the bat, came over and started talking to him.”
The attack was never reported to police.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.