9/11 families call Trump and LIV golfers ‘cowards’ over Saudi-backed tournament

The families of 9/11 victims have slammed Donald Trump and LIV golfers as “cowards” for failing to admit they are solely taking part in a Saudi-funded tournament for the money.

Dozens of members of the 9/11 Justice group protested the start of the cash-rich LIV tournament that started at Trump Bedminster National Golf Course in New Jersey on Friday, just 50 miles from Ground Zero.

Brett Eagleson, whose father John died in the attack on the World Trade Center, told reporters that his attempts to appeal directly to golfers had been ignored.

“When I think about (my father) and I hear thousands of other stories about true heroes that day and I see these golfers dodge questions, put their head in the sand. Not want to … address our issues and just say ‘golf is for the greater good’ or ‘I’m doing this for my family’. Well my dad went to work that day to provide for his family and he got blown away.

“If we can’t get a golfer to at least look us in the eye and tell us they are doing it for the money and they don’t give a s*** about the atrocities of Saudi Arabia, they’re cowards.” Mr Eagleson said.

Juliette Scauso, whose father Dennis Scauso was one of 343 firefighters killed on 9/11, accused high-profile players Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson — and Donald Trump — of turning their backs on their country for personal profit.

“We 9/11 families would trade any amount of money in the world just to see our loved ones again, just to have one last hug, one conversation, one more round of golf.”

This week, 9/11 Justice released an advert savaging Mr Trump for holding the a Saudi Arabian-funded golf tournament 50 miles from Ground Zero.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Tuesday, Mr Trump appeared unconcerned about the families’ objections.

“I don’t know much about the 9/11 families, I don’t know what is the relationship to this, and their very strong feelings, and I can understand their feelings,” he said.

The Saudi government has denied any involvement in the attacks, and a report by the 9/11 Commission released in 2004 said it had not found any evidence that Saudi institutions of officials had funded the terrorist organisation.

But victims rights groups continue to seek the release of more classified information from US authorities.

In a 2016 Fox News interview, Mr Trump blamed the Saudis for the attack.

“Who blew up the World Trade Center?” he said on Fox & Friends. “It wasn’t the Iraqis — it was Saudi. Take a look at Saudi Arabia. Open the documents.”

Mr Trump has a history of making dubious claims about the terror attacks on New York on 11 September 2001.

After the Twin Towers fell, he bizarrely claimed in an interview that day that his building at 40 Wall St was now the tallest in downtown Manhattan.

He also claimed that he saw thousands of New Jersey Muslims celebrating on 9/11 while campaigning for president in 2015.

Despite there being no evidence that any such celebration took place, Mr Trump doubled down on the remarks when challenged on them in later interviews.

The LIV Golf league, headed by Australian golfer Greg Norman, has enticed high-profile players including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen to defect from the PGA Tour with the promise of $25m in prize money at each event.

The PGA Tour voted last year to strip an agreement to play the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster after the deadly attack on the US Capitol.

LIV Golf issued a statement last week expressing their “deepest sympathy” for the families of 9/11 victims.