Trump reverses stance on white supremacists following backlash

'I condemn the Proud Boys,' Trump said. 'I don't know much about the Proud Boys, almost nothing, but I condemn that.'

Two days after his controversial statements during the first 2020 presidential debate, President Donald Trump reversed course and condemned white supremacists. 

“I’ve said it many times,” Trump said during a call-in segment with Sean Hannity. “Let me be clear again: I condemn the KKK. I condemn all white supremacists. I condemn the Proud Boys. I don’t know much about the Proud Boys, almost nothing, but I condemn that.”

President Donald Trump walks to Marine One on the south lawn of the White House Thursday en route to Bedminster, New Jersey for a roundtable event with supporters and a fundraiser. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“But [Biden] should condemn also Antifa,” Trump continued. “Antifa’s a horrible group of people. They kill people, they — what they do to people, and they’re causing insurrection, they’re causing riots.”

FBI Director Chris Wray told lawmakers last month that Antifa is an ideology, not an organization, a point that Democratic nominee Joe Biden reiterated during Tuesday’s debate. During their exchange, Trump maintained that Wray was wrong. 

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In the same testimony before Congress in September, Wray said that “racially motivated violent extremism,” mostly from white supremacists, has made up a majority of domestic terrorism threats. 

During Tuesday night’s debate, Trump was asked to denounce white supremacy and asked for a specific group name. Biden offered, “Proud Boys.” The president replied that the group should “stand back and stand by,” a statement that sent shockwaves through the nation. 

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His words were embraced by the far-right group, which quickly co-opted the sentiment. However, Republicans sought to distance themselves from the comments.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, tweeted that he agrees with “President Trump needing to make it clear Proud Boys is a racist organization antithetical to American ideals.”

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Sen. Tim Scott, the country’s lone Black Republican senator, said that he believed the president misspoke and that he should correct his statement. “If he doesn’t correct it,” he added, “I guess he didn’t misspeak.”

Trump did not say on Hannity that he misspoke. In disavowing white supremacy, he claimed that even if he said it a hundred times, it wouldn’t be enough for the “fake news media.” 

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