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McMaster. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Former Trump national security adviser H.R. McMaster in an interview with The Atlantic lamented that President Trump would not condemn white supremacy at Tuesday's debate, calling it a "missed opportunity" and affirming that white supremacist groups pose a threat to national security.

Catch up quick: Trump was asked at the first presidential debate to condemn white supremacy, but instead told the far-right group Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by." The president has since partially tried walking back his comments, telling reporters that he doesn't know who the Proud Boys are.

  • McMaster left his role in 2018 after approximately a year on the job. He's remained one of the most neutral ex-Trump administration officials, relative to the scores of defectors who have criticized the president since leaving their roles.

What they're saying: McMaster argued, "To use a sports analogy, condemning white supremacists should be a layup for any leader. "

  • "What we’re undervaluing these days is the importance of bringing Americans back together to reinforce our common identity."

The retired Army general added that Trump's refusal to condemn white supremacism "gives space to these groups that foment hatred and intolerance."

  • "And whenever you have a group at one end of the spectrum who define themselves in a particular way, you tend to get an equal and opposite reaction on the other end of the spectrum. ... Our leaders should give voice to those of us who reject extremists and intolerance."

Go deeper

Updated Oct 23, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on the upcoming election

On Friday, October 23 Axios' Mike Allen, Margaret Talev, and Stef Kight hosted a conversation on voter turnout and how national security will play a key role in November's election, featuring Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), CEO of Voto Latino María Teresa Kumar and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

María Teresa Kumar discussed Voto Latino's registration of 567,000 new voters in six key battleground states, and trends across the Latino electorate.

  • On the growth of eligible Latino voters and its effect on swing states: "Four million more young Latino voters are eligible to vote. Every 30 seconds, a young Latino becomes eligible to vote. So that is why you see such a shifting in our electoral map of what is now considered a toss up."

Rep. Karen Bass unpacked her concerns about the election, voter suppression, and her priorities in the coming weeks.

  • On President Trump's political rhetoric: "I'm really worried about November 4th, frankly, because the president has been so divisive...He doesn't use a dog whistle. He has a bullhorn and he's telling [white supremacist groups] to all come out."
  • On the priorities of the Congressional Black Caucus going into 2021: "Our number one, number two, and number three priorities are COVID. "

Retired Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster discussed Russia's attempts to disrupt U.S. elections in 2016 and 2020, American foreign policy, and his view of Russian President Vladimir Putin's long-term goals.

  • On Russia's election disruption strategies: "Russia is engaged in a sustained campaign of political subversion against us...The broad effort is to use disinformation to shake our confidence in who we are as a people, to polarize our society, to pit us against each other, and to shake our confidence in our democratic principles, institutions and processes."

Thank you Bank of America for sponsoring this event.

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell (left) during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.