Speed Reads

never heard of them

Trump says he doesn't 'know who the Proud Boys are'

In an attempt to clarify comments he made during Tuesday night's president debate, President Trump said Wednesday at the White House that he doesn't know who the Proud Boys are, but added that they should "stand down" and let law enforcement do their jobs.

Trump sparked bipartisan criticism during the debate when moderator Chris Wallace asked him if he was willing to denounce far-right and white supremacist groups. Trump asked who he should specifically address, and when the Proud Boys — a far-right group designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — were suggested, he told them "to stand down and stand by," which members quickly adopted as a rallying cry.

The president's aides argued he didn't need to clarify anything since he was trying to tell the group to "get out of the way," but Trump added a new wrinkle to the situation by claiming ignorance. His critics aren't taking him for his word since he has a history of saying he doesn't know who people are when his connections to them are called into question, like David Duke in 2016, and because he didn't need any clarification about the group before telling them what to do, which suggests awareness. But regardless of whether Trump knows who the Proud Boys are, he seems to have deliberately dropped "stand by" from his rhetoric.