Trump condemns ‘all white supremacists’ after refusing to do so in presidential debate

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“I condemn the KKK, I condemn all white supremacists, I condemn the Proud Boys. I don’t know much about the Proud Boys, next to nothing, but I condemn it, ”Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity, before returning. equate the violence of far-left groups with white supremacists, who according to its own FBI director are the greatest domestic terrorist concern.

The White House initially showed no signs of backing down from Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacists during Tuesday’s debate, despite calls from some Republican allies to clarify his comments.

Earlier Thursday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany did not make a declarative statement denouncing white supremacists, instead highlighting the president’s past comments and insisting he had not poorly expressed during or after debate.

“The president in particular, verbatim, was asked (Wednesday): ‘White supremacy – are you denouncing them? To which he replied, “I have always denounced any form of this,” “said McEnany. “These are the facts. “

But McEnany ruled out the fact that when Trump was asked if he condemned white supremacists on Tuesday, he appeared to equate the violence of far-left groups with white supremacy.During the debate, the president also told the Proud Boys – a far-right group that the Anti-Defamation League calls misogynist, Islamophobic, transphobic and anti-immigration – to “take a step back and to be ready ”.

“Who would you like me to condemn?” Trump said. Challenger Joe Biden could be heard twice saying, “Proud Boys”.

“Proud Boys – step back and stay away. But I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what. Someone has to do something about the antifa and the left because it’s not a right-wing issue, ”Trump continued.

Although Trump has reluctantly condemned the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists in the past, he has memorably stated that “both sides” are to blame for racial violence in Charlottesville, Va., Has frequently downplayed the threat of white supremacists during his tenure and actually stoking racial tensions is a key part of his re-election strategy.

In contrast, the Trump administration has portrayed the antifa and anarchists as a major threat to the United States equivalent to that of the KKK, recently making an election pledge to prosecute both the KKK and the antifa as a terrorist organizations.

In fact, white supremacists will remain the “most persistent and deadly threat” to the United States until 2021, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s draft documents.

The most recent draft report predicts a “high threat environment at least until” early next year, concluding that some violent extremists based in the United States have profited from rising social and political tensions in 2020.

CNN’s Jason Hoffman and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.

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