Trump again defends claim Hurricane Dorian could have hit Alabama

Image: UPresident Donald Trump holds an early projection map of Hurricane D
President Donald Trump holds an early projection map of Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office on Sept. 4, 2019. Copyright Jonathan Ernst Reuters
By Allan Smith with NBC News Politics
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"What I said was accurate!" Trump tweeted Thursday morning, a day after showing reporters a week-old, apparently doctored hurricane map.


President Donald Trump on Thursday again defended his assertion that Alabama had stood in the path of Hurricane Dorian, saying coverage of the ordeal — including his sharing a week-old hurricane map apparently doctored to back the claim — is meant to "demean" him.

"In the early days of the hurricane, when it was predicted that Dorian would go through Miami or West Palm Beach, even before it reached the Bahamas, certain models strongly suggested that Alabama & Georgia would be hit as it made its way through Florida & to the Gulf," Trump tweeted. "Instead it turned North and went up the coast, where it continues now."

"In the one model through Florida, the Great State of Alabama would have been hit or grazed," he continued. "In the path it took, no. Read my FULL FEMA statement. What I said was accurate! All Fake News in order to demean!"

To the confusion of some, when the hurricane's path was projected Sunday to go up the East Coast, avoiding Alabama, Trump tweeted: "In addition to Florida — South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated."

About 20 minutes later, the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, tweeted: "Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian" because the storm "will remain too far east."

Later that day, Trump twice told reporters that Alabama was in the storm's path, first saying outside of Marine One that "Alabama is going to get a piece of it, it looks like," and later, at a Federal Emergency Management Agency briefing, saying the storm "may get a little piece of a great place: It's called Alabama."

Trump continued to press the issue on Monday. Upset over an ABC News report fact-checking the Alabama claim, the president tweeted: "Such a phony hurricane report by lightweight reporter @jonkarl of @ABCWorldNews. I suggested yesterday at FEMA that, along with Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, even Alabama could possibly come into play, which WAS true."

Then, on Wednesday, Trump displayed an apparently doctored map in the Oval Office that showed Alabama to be within Dorian's path. The map Trump displayed was the same as a model produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week — well before its path along the East Coast had materialized — showing the hurricane's projected path cutting through central Florida.

But there was one key difference: Where the original projection ended, a smaller, black circle that appeared to be hand-drawn with a Sharpie included Alabama in the model.

President Donald Trump holds an early projection map of Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office on Sept. 4, 2019.
President Donald Trump holds an early projection map of Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office on Sept. 4, 2019.Jonathan Ernst

Asked later that day about the discrepancy with the original map, Trump said: "I don't know. I don't know."

Hours later, he tweeted another map dated Aug. 28 — a day older than the map he displayed in the Oval Office — showing Alabama in the cross-hairs. The image, credited to the South Florida Water Management District, includes fine print that said, "[National Hurricane Center] Advisories and County Emergency Management Statements supersede this project. This graphic should complement, not replace, NHC discussions."

"If anything on this graphic causes confusion, ignore the entire product," the image notes.

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