Donald Trump shifted course on Wednesday, saying he does not know the white supremacist group known as the “Proud Boys” after telling them during the first presidential debate to “stand back and stand by” when asked to condemn all such groups.
"I don't know who the proud boys are,” he claimed while leaving the White House for a campaign fundraiser and rally in Minnesota. You’ll have to give me a definition. … I can only say they have to stand down, let law enforcement do their work.
Mr Trump for the second consecutive day was given a chance to clearly denounce all white supremacist groups, but he would again not say the words in a way that left no doubt.
“I’ve always denounced any form. Any form of any of that you, have to denounce,” he said. “But Joe Biden needs to say something about Antifa. … Now, Antifa is a real problem. … Biden refuses to talk about it.”
But he did several times instruct the Proud Boys to stand aside during protests, though he did not denounce the group’s racist beliefs.
"Whoever they are, they need to stand down" during protests across the country over perceived racial inequality and police violence against black people, the president said.
The president also told reporters on the executive mansion’s South Lawn that he has always denounced white racist groups.
A review of his record since taking office suggests otherwise, however.
Following protests organised by white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, the president was pressed to condemn the pro-white activists. Instead, he contended there were “very fine people on both sides,” also referring to counter-protesters, one of whom was killed when a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd.
“Law enforcement will do the work more and more as people see how bad this radical liberal Democrat movement is, and law enforcement is going to come back stronger and stronger,” he said. “But again, I don’t know who Proud Boys are, but they have to stand down, let law enforcement do their work.