"I don't know who the Proud Boys are. You'll have to give me a definition because I really don't know who they are," Trump told reporters Wednesday. "I can only say they have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work."
He went on to say, "As people see how bad this radical liberal Democrat movement is and how weak, the law enforcement is going to come back stronger and stronger. But again, I don't know who Proud Boys are, but whoever they are, they have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work."
The Proud Boys organization is made up of self-proclaimed "western chauvinists" that are known to engage in political violence and spew white supremacist rhetoric. Trump mentioned the group on Tuesday when he and Joe Biden were debating race and violence in America. During the segment, moderator Chris Wallace asked the president if he would finally denounce the white supremacists within his base. Trump, predictably, refused to do so.
"I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not the right wing," Trump said. "I'm willing to do anything. I want to see peace. ... What do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name."
Biden is then heard calling out "Proud Boys."
Trump continued: "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I'll tell you what, somebody's gotta do something about Antifa and the left."
The "stand by" comment was widely criticized across social media and news networks, as many considered it to be an endorsement of the neo-fascist organization. Some GOP lawmakers are now calling on the president to denounce the Proud Boys and all other white nationalist organizations. Republican Sen. Tim Scott said he believes Trump "misspoke" when he made the "stand by" comments; however, he said he believes the president owed it to the country to correct his statement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed Scott. "He said it was unacceptable not to condemn white supremacy," McConnell said, as reported by Politico. "And so, I do so in the strongest possible way. If he doesn't correct it—I guess he didn't misspeak."
Democratic presidential nominee Biden has since offered his own directive to the group. "My message to the Proud Boys and every other white supremacists group is cease and desist," he told the media Wednesday, as reported by CBS News. "That's not who we are. That’s not who we are as Americans."
Question: Do you have a message for the Proud Boys today?— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) September 30, 2020
Biden: Cease and desist pic.twitter.com/nJVEGg5PKx
You can read some of the reactions to Trump's recent claims below.