Prior to President Trump’s positive COVID-19 test, he was under fire following his inability to condemn white supremacy during the first presidential debate. During the debate, Trump was asked by moderator Chris Wallace if he would condemn white supremacy. Trump responded by referring to The Proud Boys, a white supremacist group, saying “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.
This prompted outrage from many politicians on both sides of the spectrum, along with many anti-racist activists. Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said that it is “unacceptable not to condemn white supremacists.”
However, some have pointed out a quote from 2017 where Trump discusses radical ideologies, including neo-Nazis, saying they “should be condemned totally.”
Trump continued to receive criticism and many pressing questions during White House press briefings. Two days after the debate, Trump condemned white supremacy.
“Let me be clear again: I condemn the KKK. I condemn all white supremacists. I condemn the Proud Boys. I don’t know much about the Proud Boys, almost nothing, but I condemn that,” Trump stated in an interview with Fox News host, Sean Hannity.
Additionally, antifa, an anti-facist movement, has often been criticized by Trump, and he mentioned it when asked about white supremacy during the debate, saying, “But I’ll tell you what: Somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”
Though Trump has often characterized antifa as a violent organization, FBI Director, Christopher Wray, has said it is “not a group or organization,” but rather a “movement or ideology.” After Trump asked about antifa during the debate, Joe Biden, Trump’s opponent in the presidential election, recalled Wray’s words, saying “… antifa is an idea, not an organization. Not militias.”