Steve Allen 4am - 7am
Donald Trump tells far-right group to 'stand down' after refusing to condemn them
1 October 2020, 06:26
Donald Trump has told a far-right group to 'stand down', after refusing to condemn them during the first Presidential debate against Joe Biden.
During the debate in Ohio, the US President was repeatedly asked to condemn the actions of far-right organisations and militias, but Trump danced around the questions.
But when pressed further and asked if he would instruct the Proud Boys - a the male-only group of neo-fascists - to obey the direction of law enforcement, Trump 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."
However, he has now distanced himself from the group, who celebrated his words and claimed they saw a spike in people wanting to join.
"I don't know who Proud Boys are. But whoever they are they have to stand down, let law enforcement do their work," Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a campaign stop in Minnesota.
The president went on call out forces on the other end of the political spectrum and tried to attack Mr Biden, echoing how he blamed "both sides" for the 2017 violence between white supremacists and anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.
He said on Wednesday: "Now antifa is a real problem. The problem is on the left. And Biden refuses to talk about it."
In fact, FBI Director Christopher Wray told a congressional panel last week that it was white supremacists and anti-government extremists who have been responsible for most of the recent deadly attacks by extremist groups in the US.
Proud Boys leaders and supporters took to social media to celebrate the president's comments at the debate, with more than 5,000 of the group's members posting "Stand Back" and "Stand By" above and below the group's logo.
And when Mr Trump was directly asked on Wednesday if he "would welcome white supremacist support," he ignored the question and again stressed the need for "law and order".
Trump has repeatedly been seen to skirt around the condemnation of white supremacists in America.
In 2017, following a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a white supremacist deliberately drove into peaceful anti-racism protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, the President described the incident as having "very fine people on both sides".