GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has come under fire this week for suggesting in a newly published interview that federal agents may have been on planes involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
A feature story about the 2024 contender published Monday in The Atlantic said Ramaswamy began talking about the 2001 attacks after discussing the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection during an interview.
“I think it is legitimate to say how many police, how many federal agents, were on the planes that hit the Twin Towers. Maybe the answer is zero. It probably is zero for all I know, right? I have no reason to think it was anything other than zero. But if we’re doing a comprehensive assessment of what happened on 9/11, we have a 9/11 commission, absolutely that should be an answer the public knows the answer to,” Ramaswamy said to the reporter, John Hendrickson.
Ramaswamy was then asked if he was confused about who was behind the 9/11 attacks.
“I mean, I would take the truth about 9/11,” Ramaswamy said. “I am not questioning what we—this is not something I’m staking anything out on. But I want the truth about 9/11.”
The Atlantic said it later asked for clarification and Ramaswamy’s spokesperson cited a lengthy tweet from the candidate that implied that the U.S. covered up involvement by Saudi intelligence officials in planning the attacks.
On Monday night, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins grilled Ramaswamy about his comments on 9/11, and the GOP candidate repeatedly said that the quote in The Atlantic was “wrong.”
But when pressed further about his remark questioning how many federal agents were on the planes that hit the Twin Towers, he said, “The truth is there are lies the government has told about 9/11. But it’s not the ones that somebody put in my mouth. It’s the one that I articulated, which is that Saudi Arabia, absolutely, their intelligence was involved in 9/11. And that’s a difficult thing you’re not supposed to say. The facts back that up.”
On Tuesday, The Atlantic published the audio of that part of the conversation, along with a transcript, showing that he was quoted accurately in Monday’s article.
When reached for comment on Tuesday, Ramaswamy’s campaign spokesperson said, “The audio clearly demonstrates that Vivek was taken badly out of context and even this small snippet proves that. We continue to encourage The Atlantic to release more of the recording, rather than their carefully selected snippet, so that full context and reality is exposed. We encourage everyone to listen to it.”
The spokesperson added: “He was posing a question and comparison between the Jan 6 commission vs. 9/11 commission. He obviously doesn’t think there were federal agents on either flight.”
The U.S. government has said that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were behind the 9/11 attacks. An FBI document declassified by President Joe Biden in 2021 detailed contacts that the Saudi hijackers had with Saudi associates in the U.S. before the attacks. It did not, however, provide evidence that senior Saudi government officials were complicit in the attacks.
The 9/11 Commission said in its report that it didn’t find evidence that Saudi leaders were complicit in the attacks, but it did say Saudi nationals played key roles in funding al Qaeda.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com