A day after the enormous fire that broke out at Paris's historic Notre Dame Cathedral, President Donald Trump, speaking at a Tax Day roundtable in Minnesota, seemed to go off script a bit when describing the fire and the cathedral itself.
It started innocently enough:
I will tell you the fire they're having at the Notre Dame cathedral is something like few people have witnessed. When we left, we had a whole group of your great representatives, and when we left [Air Force One] it was burning at a level that you rarely see a fire burn.
But then it got a little weird:
It is one of the great treasures of the world, the greatest arts in the world. If you think about it, it might be greater than almost any museum in the world and it is burning very badly.
President Trump discusses Notre Dame before holding tax & economy roundtable in Minneapolis: "It might be greater t… https://t.co/1BLw6g8QS0— The Hill (@The Hill) 1555356660.0
People wondered, does he even know what Notre Dame is? Was he confusing it with the Louvre?
He totally thinks it’s the Louvre. https://t.co/dhNmrg5xtS— Michael Ⓜ️ (@Michael Ⓜ️) 1555363267.0
Reads tomorrow's WaPo headline: "Trump Thinks Notre Dame Is A Museum; God, What An Imbecile." https://t.co/97zgXdNBUa— Eric Cline eats his turkey in chili form (@Eric Cline eats his turkey in chili form) 1555378569.0
Notre Dame isn't a museum, you moron. @realDonaldTrump #Trump #ThickestPresidentEver https://t.co/KYl6b525gI— 🍁🦃Thankful Kristian Harstad🦃🍁 (@🍁🦃Thankful Kristian Harstad🦃🍁) 1555403916.0
Re: Trump’s “It might be greater than almost any museum in the world” comment - he’s confusing Notre Dame and the Louvre, isn’t he?— Al Kennedy (@Al Kennedy) 1555400681.0
Trump thinks Notre Dame is a museum. I'm actually surprised he didn't say university... https://t.co/PuCccrk4Qu— 🍑 Impeach Indict Imprison Trump✏️ 🇺🇸🏳️🌈 (@🍑 Impeach Indict Imprison Trump✏️ 🇺🇸🏳️🌈) 1555378084.0
The president's off-the-cuff comments came just a day after he courted controversy by suggesting that firefighters should employ “flying water tankers” to quench the fire.
So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used… https://t.co/chuLADsVgU— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1555349988.0
The French Civil Security agency, which is part of the French Ministry of Interior responded soon after, pointing out that dropping water from the air onto the building could cause the entire structure to collapse.
"The weight of the water and the intensity of the drop at low altitude could indeed weaken the structure of Notre-Dame and result in collateral damage to the buildings in the vicinity," tweeted the agency, which is part of the French Ministry of Interior.
#NotreDame @PompiersParis Le largage d'eau par avion sur ce type d'édifice pourrait en effet entraîner l'effondreme… https://t.co/A43je5k0vz— Sécurité Civile Fr (@Sécurité Civile Fr) 1555353487.0
The president was harshly criticized for that statement.
French Civil Security agency feels it necessary, at moment of national grief, to rebut US president's suggestion of… https://t.co/8gtriSIgXe— Kevin Liptak (@Kevin Liptak) 1555357458.0
Watching Donald Trump firesplain, via tweet, to heartbroken Parisians on how to help Notre Dame is a new level of s… https://t.co/RTUMbPyfNQ— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈) 1555351346.0
Shocking to see Notre Dame in flames. (But I didn’t realise that Donald Trump was a fire fighting expert, able to t… https://t.co/cgznkIALmu— Chas White (@Chas White) 1555404386.0
The president's remarks were a far cry from those issued by his wife, First Lady Melania, and Vice President Mike Pence.
Yesterday, the First Lady tweeted that her "heart breaks for the people of Paris."
My heart breaks for the people of Paris after seeing the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. Praying for everyone’s safety.— Melania Trump (@Melania Trump) 1555351535.0
Pence, meanwhile, said Notre Dame is "an iconic symbol of faith to people all over the world."
Notre Dame is an iconic symbol of faith to people all over the world – and it is heartbreaking to see a house of Go… https://t.co/agwIKsG7Ci— Vice President Mike Pence (@Vice President Mike Pence) 1555352194.0
French President Emmanuel Macron will hold a Cabinet meeting tomorrow dedicated to the national fundraising campaign and reconstruction work for the landmark, which has survived several fires and many wars since it was completed in the 13th century.