President Trump on Wednesday said he doesn’t know who the Proud Boys are and called on them to “stand down” after he said during the first presidential debate that the racist group should “stand by” during the election.
“I don’t know who the Proud Boys are,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn as he departed for a campaign trip to Minnesota, after his Tuesday night remark earned widespread condemnation.
“Whoever they are, they need to stand down,” Trump added.
At the debate in Cleveland, Trump told the group to “stand back and stand by” after Fox News moderator Chris Wallace asked him to condemn white supremacists and militia groups following deadly clashes and rioting in US cities Kenosha, Wis. and Portland, Ore.
The Proud Boys group was founded in 2016 by Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes and is known for physically confronting leftist protesters, including last year during a July 4 flag-burning outside the White House.
Democrats pounced on Trump’s apparent refusal to condemn the group from the debate stage, while the group itself celebrated.