Sep 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump to far-right Proud Boys: "Stand back and stand by"

Asked to condemn white supremacist violence at the first presidential debate on Tuesday, President Trump said the far-right Proud Boys group should "stand back and stand by," before immediately arguing that violence in the U.S. "is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem."

Why it matters: Trump has repeatedly been accused of failing to condemn white nationalism and right-wing violence, despite the FBI's assessment that it's the most significant domestic terrorism threat that the country faces. The president has frequently associated antifa and the left-wing violence that has afflicted some U.S. cities with Biden, despite his condemnation of violent protests.

The exchange:

WALLACE: "Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we've seen in Portland?" 
TRUMP: "Sure. I'm willing to do that."
WALLACE: "Go ahead, sir."
TRUMP: "I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing. Not from the right wing."
WALLACE: "What are you saying?"
TRUMP: "I'm willing to do anything. I want to see peace."
WALLACE: "Then do it, sir. Say it."
TRUMP: "What do you want to call them. Give me a name. Who do you want me to condemn?"
WALLACE: "White supremacists and right -- "
BIDEN: "Proud Boys."
TRUMP: "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I'll tell you what. Somebody has to do something about antifa and the left. This is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem."
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