Leaving the White House for campaign appearances in Minnesota, Trump told reporters he doesn’t know who the “Proud Boys” are — despite having told the far-right group, which reportedly has described itself as “western chauvinist” but not white supremacist, to “stand back and stand by” at the debate.
“I don’t know who the Proud Boys are. I mean, you’ll you have to give me a definition because I really don’t know who they are. I can only say they have to stand down, let law enforcement do their work,” Trump said of the group which has staged counter protests in cities like Portland that have experienced recent violence.
Asked directly on Wednesday if he would denounce white supremacy, Trump claimed he has always denounced it — but once again didn’t use the words “white supremacy.”
“I’ve always denounced — any form, any form, any form of any of that — you have to denounce,” Trump said.
A White House spokesperson had said earlier in the day there was nothing for the president to “clarify.”
At Tuesday’s debate, asked by moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News whether he was “willing to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence,” the president at first said, “Sure, I’m willing to do that.”
When Wallace pressed him, the president asked, “What do you want to call them?”
“White supremacists and right-wing militias,” Wallace said, as former Vice President Joe Biden interjected the name “Proud Boys.”
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump then replied. “But I’ll tell you what, somebody has got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem.”
The Proud Boys describe themselves as “a pro-Western fraternal organization for men,” according to the New York Times, and have denied they are part of the “alt-right” — but members have recently been connected to white supremacist groups.
The primary organizer of the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia — where one counter-protester was