A local fire department was forced to refute false claims made by Donald Trump after the president claimed he received “special permission” to overcrowd a coliseum in Texas for his Monday night rally.
The fire department in El Paso, Texas, denied a statement Mr Trump made to cheering supporters at a “Finish the Wall” rally he held near the US-Mexico border this week in which he said fire officials “got in about 10,000” people to the El Paso County Coliseum.
“The arena holds 8,000,” Mr Trump falsely claimed at the rally, before thanking the fire department for allegedly allowing in more people than the maximum restrictions.
“Thank you, fire department. They got in about 10,000,” he continued. “Thank you, fire department. Appreciate it.”
The El Paso County Coliseum is reportedly only capable of holding nearly 6,500 people when at full capacity — a fact that was clearly lost on the president as he spoke to a crowd of supporters donning red MAGA hats and other Trump campaign merchandise.
The crowd size claims were among the least consequential false statements Mr Trump made on Monday night.
He also claimed El Paso was one of the “most dangerous cities in the country” before a border wall was built in the area to prevent illegal immigration over the southern border.
Those suggestions go against all sorts of publicly available data showing crime rates steadily falling in the region ever since the early 1990s — well before a wall was authorised to be built in El Paso in 2006.
In fact, violent crimes rates actually experienced a slight increase during the construction of the wall in the region. The project was completed in 2009.
The president’s claims were fact-checked in real-time by Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas Democratic congressman and potential 2020 presidential candidate, who called for compassionate immigration politics rather than a wall.
“Walls don’t save lives, walls end lives,” Mr O’Rourke said to a crowd of nearly 7,000, according to a police source.
As for the crowd size claims, Enrique D Aguilar, a spokesperson for the El Paso Fire Department, told local news outlets the president was wrong in claiming 10,000 people were let into the coliseum.
“It might be 10,000 with the people outside,” he guessed in an interview with El Paso Times. He denied there being any special permission allotted by the fire department to the president or his team.
Mr Trump also falsely claimed Mr O’Rourke’s competing rally had just 200 to 300 attendees — a falsity easily disproven by live video streams and photos from the event showing thousands of people congregating just blocks from the president’s rally to attend the Democrat’s speech.
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