US President Donald Trump, under fire for not unequivocally condemning white supremacists, notably the Proud Boys, did so in a friendly venue, chatting with Sean Hannity, the Fox News Channel host.
“I’ve said it many times, let me be clear again, I condemn the KKK,” Trump said Thursday night, referring to the Ku Klux Klan. “I condemn all white supremacists. I condemn the Proud Boys,” referring to the extreme right quasi militia that has had affiliations with anti-Semitism and white supremacists.
The president said his condemnation would be ignored by the “fake” media.
Trump in the first presidential debate on Tuesday night with Joe Biden failed to condemn white supremacists when challenged by the moderator, Chris Wallace. Pressed by Biden to denounce the Proud Boys, he told the group to “stand back and stand by.”
Asked by reporters about the issue Wednesday, he said he had “always denounced any form… any form of any of that.” But when one journalist asked whether he welcomed the support of white supremacists who “clearly love you and support you,” Trump appeared to avoid answering the question, instead touting the importance of “law and order” to his campaign.
The Proud Boys reveled in Trump’s debate statement, which they took not as condemnation but as instructions from a leader.
On multiple occasions during his campaign for the presidency and then while in office, Trump has appeared to encourage or absolve white supremacists, only to condemn them under pressure.
Trump’s phone interview with Hannity came just hours before the president announced that he and his wife had tested positive for the coronavirus.