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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Trump condemns white supremacist groups 48 hours after debate

President Donald Trump condemned white supremacist groups Thursday, two days after he came under fire for his comments on the issue during a debate with Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

"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 said in a phone interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity. "But [Biden] should condemn also Antifa. Antifa is a horrible group of people."

During the first presidential debate Tuesday night, moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he would denounce white supremacist groups. Trump responded, "sure." When Wallace followed up and invited Trump to voice his condemnation, the president told the far-right group Proud Boys to "stand down and stand by."

The fallout of the debate comments was swift. Members of his own party urged him to explicitly denounce white supremacy immediately. Reporters peppered White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany with questions about the comment earlier Thursday.

McEnany dismissed criticisms, saying Trump had settled the matter.

"The President was asked this; he said “sure” three times. Yesterday, he was point-blank asked, “Do you denounce white supremacy?” And he said, “I've always denounced any form of that',” McEnany told reporters earlier Thursday.

The leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, took Trump’s denunciation in stride.

“We are now to be called... The CondemnedBoys!!!” he told POLITICO by text message Thursday.

Marc Caputo contributed reporting.

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