During the presidential debate, Donald Trump was asked to condemn white supremacists, and instead said, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.” However, by Wednesday afternoon, he was telling reporters he didn’t know who the Proud Boys are, and that they’d have to give him a definition. The change follows the arrest of a Proud Boy in Portland on weapons charges, and the group celebrating Trump’s words as a call to arms.
Speaking to reporters as he left the White House Wednesday, Donald Trump boasted about his debate performance, saying that Joe Biden refused to say “law and order” (though Biden said he’s for “Law and order with justice, where people get treated fairly,”) and that all the polls he’s seen say that he ‘won’ the debate. When a reporter asked about his directive to the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by,” Trump deflected, declaring that he doesn’t know who Proud Boys are.
I don’t know who the Proud Boys are. I mean, you’ll have to give me a definition, because I really don’t know who they are.
He did, unlike at the deabte, say that Proud Boys must stand down “and let law enforcement do their work.”
Trump was also asked if it concerns him that right-wing militias are showing up with weapons at protests. He responded, “Yeah, it does concern me,” before pivoting to, “Crime generally concerns me. Any form of crime.” He then reiterated, “Let law enforcement take care of it.”
During the debate, when asked to condemn white supremacy and ask militia groups to stand down, he responded somewhat differently.
What do you want to call them? Give me a name. Who would you like me to condemn? Proud Boys? Stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what. Somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.
However, between Tuesday night’s event and Trump’s Wednesday evening departure, there was an incident in which Proud Boy Alan Swinney was caught on gun charges in Portland. The link between Trump’s apparent call-to-arms and this arrest in Portland could hardly go unnoticed.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com