President Trump said on Wednesday that he didn’t know who the Proud Boys are, despite telling the SPLC-designated hate group to “stand back and stand by” when asked if he would denounce white supremacists and militia groups at Tuesday’s debate.
“I don’t know who the Proud Boys are. You’ll have to give me a definition because I really don’t know who they are. I can only say they have to stand down, let law enforcement do their work,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday. “As people see how bad this radical liberal Democrat movement is and how weak, the law enforcement is going to come back stronger and stronger. But again, I don’t know who Proud Boys are, but whoever they are, they have to stand down, let law enforcement do their work.”
When a reporter followed up to remind Trump he told the group to “stand by” at the debate, Trump repeated his comments.
“Just stand by. Look, law enforcement will do their work. They’re going to stand down, they have to stand down. Everybody. Whatever group you are talking about, let law enforcement do the work,” Trump said.
During Tuesday’s debate, moderator Chris Wallace asked the president if he was “willing to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and say they need to stand down and not to add to the violence” in cities like Kenosha and Portland.
Though Trump responded that he was willing to do so, when Wallace asked him to actually say so, Trump instead said, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem.”
Shortly after, members of the Proud Boys celebrated the president’s remarks on social media.
“Trump basically said to go f– them up! this makes me so happy,” Joe Biggs, an organizer for the group, wrote on Parler.
“I will stand down sir!!!” Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio also wrote. “Standing by sir. So Proud of my guys right now.”
Watch President Trump’s post-debate press conference below: