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Former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum, a frequent defender of President Trump, said on CNN that Trump declined to explicitly condemn white supremacists when asked to at Tuesday's debate because he doesn't like to "say something bad about people who support him."

Why it matters: Trump has been criticized repeatedly throughout his tenure for his reticence to condemn right-wing violence, instead opting — as he did at the debate — to divert attention to Antifa and left-wing violence. Trump said on Tuesday that the far-right Proud Boys should "stand back and stand by" — a comment that the group is now seizing on as a dog whistle on online message boards.

What they're saying: "The Democrats owe a lot to Chris Wallace, because Chris Wallace asked those two questions, not Joe Biden. And he asked them for a reason. Because he asked two questions, where he was asking the president to do something he knows the president doesn't like to do," Santorum said on a CNN panel.

  • "Which is say something bad about people who support him. Talking about the white supremacists."

Go deeper ... Pundits react to a chaotic debate: “What a dark event we just witnessed”

Go deeper

Updated Jan 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Homeland Security chief calls on Trump to condemn violence by his supporters

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf. Photo: GREG NASH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf called on the president to condemn the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol Thursday, describing the events in a statement as "tragic and sickening."

The latest: About 90 minutes after the statement, the White House withdrew Wolf's nomination to the Senate to be confirmed as DHS secretary in a permanent capacity. The move has little practical implication, as there has not been a Senate-confirmed head of the agency since Kirstjen Nielsen resigned in April 2019.

Republicans object to Electoral College certification

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Republicans objected to certifying the Electoral College count on Wednesday in a final effort to overturn the 2020 election results.

Why it matters: President Trump and his allies have no other path to change the election and are relying on this last ditch effort that will ultimately confirm Joe Biden as the next president.

How right-wing media explained the pro-Trump siege of the Capitol

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

You can't understand America, 2021, without watching how right-wing media explained a mob storming the U.S. Capitol for the first time since the early 19th century.

The big picture: The right's favored media — conservative TV, websites and social networks — offered an alternate reality in which everyone but pro-Trump rioters were to blame for the mayhem at the Capitol.