"I don't know if this stage will hold it but if it doesn't, we're not falling very far."
Donald Trump signed the 9/11 victims compensation bill on Monday, joking about the stage collapsing beneath the families as he did so.
The President was speaking on the White House lawn in front of first responders and victims' families, who had watched their colleagues and loved ones perish when the Twin Towers collapsed during the terrorist attack 18 years ago.
"I'm going to sign this bill into law — and I don't know if this stage will hold it but if it doesn't, we're not falling very far — but I'd like to ask the families and the first responders to come up, and we'll give this stage a shot," the POTUS said, to a silent reception.
Just before signing the 9/11 victims compensation bill, Trump jokes with the first responders and their families that the stage may not hold all of them but that if it collapses they "are not falling very far" pic.twitter.com/h9qY3C7iHK
Administrators recently cut benefit payments by up to 70 percent, which prompted fierce lobbying from the victims' and first responders' families and their supporters, including a blistering attack by Jon Stewart at a House subcommittee hearing over their apparent indifference.
In 2016, President Trump praised the first responders in a speech, claiming he had helped clear the rubble "a little bit", as he described the danger they were all in.
"Everyone who helped clear the rubble, and I was there, and I watched, and I helped a little bit," he said. "Those people were amazing. Clearing the rubble, trying to find additional lives... you didn't know what was going to come down on all of us."