President Donald Trump failed to unequivocally condemn white supremacy and far-right group the Proud Boys when asked repeatedly by Chris Wallace, who was moderating the Tuesday night, September 29, presidential debate.
Even conservative commentators and lawmakers called the moment a low point of the evening and recommended that Trump make an explicit condemnation of the ideology and groups as soon as possible Wednesday morning. “He’s gotta clarify that right away,” Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade said on Wednesday.
Democratic New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, however, said she was not surprised by the viral moment, plainly declaring Tuesday night, “Donald Trump is a white supremacist.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Ocasio-Cortez Said That People Have Been Cautioning That Trump Is a White Supremacist ‘For a Long Time’ & Warned That Fascism Is ‘At Our Door’
Donald Trump is a white supremacist.
People have been warning about this for a long time.
They were ridiculed, called hyperbolic & radical – not bc they were wrong, but bc others couldn’t accept that our country elected a supremacist as President.
This is fascism at our door. https://t.co/sahloCJt25
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 30, 2020
Ocasio-Cortez fired off a few tweets live during the debate, and posted the now-infamous clip, in which Trump said, “Sure,” he would be willing to condemn white supremacists, but then did not. Instead, the president 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.”
Proud Boys members across the country took Trump’s words as an endorsement, not a condemnation, as reported by Heavy
Proud Boys organizer Joe Biggs posted, “Trump basically said to go f*** them up! this makes me so happy.”.
Ocasio-Cortez said she heard nothing that surprised her.
“Donald Trump is a white supremacist,” she said. “People have been warning about this for a long time. They were ridiculed, called hyperbolic and radical — not because they were wrong, but because others couldn’t accept that our country elected a supremacist as President.”
“This is fascism at our door,” she concluded.
Hogan Gidley, Deputy White House Press Secretary, Claimed Trump Actually Condemned White Supremacy 3 Times at the Debate
Trump Campaign Press Sec. Hogan Gidley claims Trump *did* condemn white supremacists "three times in the one clip you just played."
CNN's John Berman pushes back: "The president said yes I will … and then the president didn't do it." pic.twitter.com/uuvbdHrVIO
— The Recount (@therecount) September 30, 2020
CNN’s John Berman pressed Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley Wednesday morning on Trump’s apparent refusal to condemn white supremacy. Rather than offering a statement of clarification or a condemnation from Trump, Gidley claimed that Trump did condemn white supremacists and the Proud Boys “three times” during the debate.
“Just to be crystal clear, do you, Hogan Gidley — I’m not sure you can speak for the president, because the president had the opportunity to condemn them last night and he didn’t — do you, Hogan Gidley, condemn the Proud Boys?” Berman asked.
“I absolutely do, but it doesn’t matter what I do. I’m not running for President of the United States. The President does and he did call them out, he has condemned them,” Gidley said.
When Berman reminded Gidley that Trump had not, in fact, condemned the groups at the debate, Gidley claimed that Trump had said, “Sure,” three times.
There’s no other way to put it: the President of the United States refused to disavow white supremacists on the debate stage last night. pic.twitter.com/Q3VZTW1vUV
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 30, 2020
The Biden campaign has already cut an ad featuring the debate exchange playing over footage from the deadly 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia, Unite the Right white supremacist rally. The ad concludes with quotes from Proud Boys members online rejoicing at Trump’s “stand back and stand down” comment.