Trump squirms when pressed to denounce white supremacists — and can't bring himself to do it

Trump squirms when pressed to denounce white supremacists — and can't bring himself to do it
MSNBC

One of the most appalling moments in a remarkably chaotic debate Tuesday night came when moderator Chris Wallace and former Vice President Joe Biden pressed President Donald Trump to denounce white supremacists.

While Trump has occasionally offered rote or scripted denunciations of the ideology, he has equivocated at other times and offered support to bigotry. He has also clearly endorsed violence committed by his allies.

So on Tuesday, Wallace set Trump with a simple ask: "Are you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities, as we saw in Kenosha, and as we've seen in Portland?"

"Sure, I'm willing to do that," Trump said. But he never got around to doing it. "I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing. Not from the right wing. If you look — I'm willing to do anything. I want to see peace."

"Say it!" said Biden. "Do it! Say it!"

Trump looked uncomfortable for a moment. "You wanna call them... what do you want to call them? Give me a name. Who?"

"Proud Boys!" suggested Biden.

"Proud Boys?" Trump said. "Stand back and stand by. But I'll tell you what — somebody's got to do something about antifa and the Left."

Biden pointed out that Trump's own FBI director, Christopher Wray — along with other officials — has pointed out that right-wing groups pose a much more significant domestic threat than left-wing groups. But Trump didn't want to hear it.

His refusal to actually denounce white supremacists when given an opportunity, though, is even worse than his willful ignorance. It will surely be taken by them as an endorsement. In fact, his "stand back and stand by" phrase could be interpreted as a literal call to arms, which will be exacerbated by his later demands for his supporters to become "poll watchers." Many election experts fear these calls for intervention at the polls will serve as voter intimidation.

Watch the clip below:

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