“I’ve condemned them in the past,” Donald Trump told Sean Hannity last night, calling the issue from the debate “fake news.” It’s not so fake that Trump’s debate response didn’t require a clean-up, however, and Trump went to his biggest ally in the cable-news firmament to conduct it.
“Let me be clear again,” Trump declared:
President Trump explicitly denounced white supremacists in a Thursday night interview, after facing a number of questions in recent days for his controversial comments on the far-right “Proud Boys” group during the first presidential debate.
“I’ve said it many times, and let me be clear again: I condemn the [Ku Klux Klan]. I condemn all white supremacists. I condemn the Proud Boys. I don’t know much about the Proud Boys, almost nothing. But I condemn that,” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
The president also repeated his view that Vice President Joe Biden should condemn Antifa. Trump called the left-wing group, known to clash with Proud Boys members, “a horrible group of people.”
Trump cleared the air Thursday night after failing in Tuesday night’s presidential debate to outright denounce white supremacists or militia groups who have exacerbated violence in cities experiencing frequent protests.
Trump’s correct in that he has condemned white supremacists in the past, as well as racism. As Allahpundit pointed out on Wednesday, he usually has been pushed into it, as it’s not high on his radar otherwise, but Trump has been on the record in the past. Even some of his critics seem to forget that they’ve covered those times:
— Tina Stull (@tinastullracing) October 2, 2020
The media’s going to drive its narratives, a point that Trump should know by now. It’s incumbent on Trump to prepare for those efforts, especially in debates on national television. This clean-up was necessitated by a lack of preparation for a question that any first-year poli-sci student would have seen coming a mile away. Of course Charlottesville would come up, and of course Trump would be asked about white supremacy. How could he and his team not prepared to deliver the answer Trump gave Hannity two nights later? It would have defanged the issue and given Trump more credibility to demand that Joe Biden condemn Antifa.
Speaking of which, if you read the debate transcript, that was an obvious question for which Biden didn’t seem all that prepared either:
BIDEN: ANTIFA’S an idea, not an organization.
TRUMP: Oh, you got to be kidding me.
BIDEN: Not malicious.
TRUMP: Oh really?
BIDEN: That’s what his FBI –
BIDEN: — his FBI Director said.
Christopher Wray didn’t say Antifa was an “idea,” nor did he say it was “not malicious.” Wray called it an “ideology,” a “real thing,” and testified that the FBI had “any number of properly predicated investigations into what we would describe as violent anarchist extremists,” including people who identify as Antifa. Wray disputed the idea that it was an organization, preferring to call it a “movement,” which irritated Trump no end.
Will Steve Scully, the next debate moderator, follow up with Biden for a condemnation of Antifa? Doubtful, so it will be up to Trump to bring it up again. However, this time Trump had spend more time preparing for the obvious attacks than he did the first time around.