"I don't know who the Proud Boys are. You'll have to give me a definition because I really don't know who they are," Trump told reporters Wednesday. "I can only say they have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work."
He went on to say, "As people see how bad this radical liberal Democrat movement is and how weak, the law enforcement is going to come back stronger and stronger. But again, I don't know who Proud Boys are, but whoever they are, they have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work."
Asked whether he denounces white supremacists after failing to categorically and clearly condemn them at the first presidential debate, Pres. Trump says, "Any form of any of that, you have to denounce." https://t.co/9HOF3puGEh pic.twitter.com/b86zjzR3ej— ABC News (@ABC) September 30, 2020
The Proud Boys organization is made up of self-proclaimed "western chauvinists" that are known to engage in political violence and spew white supremacist rhetoric. Trump mentioned the group on Tuesday when he and Joe Biden were debating race and violence in America. During the segment, moderator Chris Wallace asked the president if he would finally denounce the white supremacists within his base. Trump, predictably, refused to do so.
"I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not the right wing," Trump said. "I'm willing to do anything. I want to see peace. ... What do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name."
Biden is then heard calling out "Proud Boys."
Trump continued: "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I'll tell you what, somebody's gotta do something about Antifa and the left."
The "stand by" comment was widely criticized across social media and news networks, as many considered it to be an endorsement of the neo-fascist organization. Some GOP lawmakers are now calling on the president to denounce the Proud Boys and all other white nationalist organizations. Republican Sen. Tim Scott said he believes Trump "misspoke" when he made the "stand by" comments; however, he said he believes the president owed it to the country to correct his statement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed Scott. "He said it was unacceptable not to condemn white supremacy," McConnell said, as reported by Politico. "And so, I do so in the strongest possible way. If he doesn't correct it—I guess he didn't misspeak."
President Trump just now at the White House: "I don't know who Proud Boys are. But whoever they are they have to stand down, let law enforcement do their work."— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) September 30, 2020
Trump in February 2016: "I don't know anything about David Duke ... I know nothing about white supremacists."
Democratic presidential nominee Biden has since offered his own directive to the group. "My message to the Proud Boys and every other white supremacists group is cease and desist," he told the media Wednesday, as reported by CBS News. "That's not who we are. That’s not who we are as Americans."
Question: Do you have a message for the Proud Boys today?— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) September 30, 2020
Biden: Cease and desist pic.twitter.com/nJVEGg5PKx
You can read some of the reactions to Trump's recent claims below.
He's lying, of course, but if you take him at his word: you should know who the Proud Boys are! They're a white supremacist national security threat who are responsible for violence in American cities! Learn who they are! Do your job, you twerp! https://t.co/tSK7lum6Jk— Ken Tremendous (@KenTremendous) September 30, 2020
There he goes again.— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) September 30, 2020
Trump always speaks with forked tongue about white supremacists and then claims ignorance.
Trump did this with David Duke and the KKK in 2016.
He did it with racists in Charlottesville in 2017.
And now he’s doing it with the Proud Boys in 2020. https://t.co/CzeOk4I2Mx
Trump just said, “I don't know who the Proud Boys are ... Whoever they are they need to stand down.”— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) September 30, 2020
He’s a lying piece of shit, they already heard his message loud and clear, and taking this walk-back at face value would be enabling him.
Weird to tell a group that you say you aren't familiar with to "stand down, let law enforcement do their work," which implies that you know what they are doing, i.e. taking paramilitary action against the left versus to the state-sanctioned violence of law enforcement https://t.co/pfKN8BPnbT— Hayes Brown (@HayesBrown) September 30, 2020
Trump knew who the Proud Boys were yesterday night and then forgot who they were this morning. That is a huge sign of clinical mental deterioration and maybe he shouldn’t be in control of one of the world’s strongest militaries.— devon sawa (@DevonESawa) September 30, 2020
It’s always a bit of a mathematics ride when Trump tries to find the sweet spot of the Least Condemnatory Statement of White Supremacy That Allows Fox News Hosts to Be Unembarrassed to Support Him. It can be a days-long math problem! https://t.co/92rj56FyHq— Elizabeth Picciuto 💨🍂 (@epicciuto) September 30, 2020
If past is prologue, Trump meant what he said last night, has been cajoled into making a correction he’s reluctant to make, and when he doesn’t get credit for the begrudging correction he’ll get mad and within the next 48 hours reiterate what he really meant in the first place. https://t.co/ShW5L0QYy3— Maria Spinella (@mariaspinella) September 30, 2020
- Trump Tells 'Proud Boys' to 'Stand By' When Asked to Condemn White Supremacists During Debate
- AOC Condemns Ad Showing Photo of Her on Fire as 'Love Letter' to GOP's White Supremacist Base
- Livestream the First Trump vs. Biden Presidential Debate
- FBI Classifies Proud Boys as 'Extremist Group With Ties to White Nationalism'
- The Complex SHOP: Designer Clothing and Brands
- Complex Podcast Network
- Sole Collector Mobile App - Your app for the Sneaker World
- Sneaker of the Year: The Best Since ’85 Book - Now available for pre-order!
Sign up for the Complex Newsletter for breaking news, events, and unique stories.