President Donald Trump declined to condemn white supremacists and violent rightwing extremist groups during a contentious first presidential debate in which the issue of anti-racism protests and civic unrest was one of the topics of discussion.
Asked repeatedly by the moderator, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, to condemn the actions of white supremacists and other groups, such as militias or far-right organizations, Trump ignored the question and sought to instead criticize the actions of leftwing groups and activists.
When prompted by former Vice President Joe Biden to condemn the Proud Boys, a far-right group often associated with violent protests, Trump directly addressed the group by saying: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by! But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”
In response to the shocking directions, Sen. Ed Markey tweeted: “Donald Trump won’t condemn white supremacists because he is one.”
Donald Trump won't condemn white supremacists because he is one.
— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) September 30, 2020
Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, tweeted: “And please don’t let it slip by you that tonight the President of the Untied States refused to condemn white supremacy–not once, not twice but several times when given the opportunity while telling white supremacist groups to “stand down and stand by”.
And please don't let it slip by you that tonight the President of the Untied States refused to condemn white supremacy–not once, not twice but several times when given the opportunity while telling white supremacist groups to "stand down and stand by". #Debate2020
— Michael Steele (@MichaelSteele) September 30, 2020
After tonight’s debate, the extremist and violent group Proud Boys added Trump’s advice to them — “Stand by” — to its logo. Let that sink in: Trump didn’t repudiate violent white supremacist extremists but bolstered them. https://t.co/sb99aBPQH2
— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) September 30, 2020