The question should’ve been an easy one. At the first debate between the major-party presidential candidates Tuesday night, Fox News host Chris Wallace asked President Donald Trump whether he would denounce white supremacists; instead of offering an unequivocal “No,” Trump told the Proud Boys hate group to “stand back and stand by.”
The Proud Boys, an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has a long history of violence, hateful rhetoric, and coziness with GOP stars and operatives, most notably Trump confidant, Republican fixer, and convicted felon Roger Stone. The group, founded by Canadian media personality Gavin McInnes and currently led by Enrique Tarrio, held a Sept. 26 rally in Portland, Oregon, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency. Although the rally attracted far fewer attendees than anticipated, the event was spun by Tarrio with expressions of pride in having not incited violence—an effort to make their group more palatable. The group is, of course, better known for its members’ attendance at the 2017 Unite the Right white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which counterprotester Heather Heyer was murdered by a white supremacist.
At Tuesday’s debate, which devolved into chaos with Trump interrupting Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at every turn, Wallace turned to a question about race, policing, and riots, and challenged the president to condemn white supremacist and militia groups.
“You have repeatedly criticized the vice president for not specifically calling out antifa and other extremist groups,” Wallace said. “Are you willing to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and say they need to stand down and not to add to the violence in these cities as we saw in Kenosha and in Portland?”
“Give me a name,” Trump said, to which Biden called out “Proud Boys.”
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by, but I’ll tell you what, somebody’s gotta do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem,” Trump said.
Different subgroups of the extreme right have fear-mongered about socialism, antifa (short-hand for anti-fascist demonstrators), baseless warnings of a “rigged” election and either called for violence or hinted at it—from radical right-wing commentator Josh Bernstein calling for Ilhan Omar to be executed for alleged ballot harvesting (for which there’s no verifiable evidence), to right-wing pastor Rick Joyner calling on military veterans to head up Christian militias to fight against the “tyranny of Marxism.”
So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the president who said that there were “very fine people on both sides” of a 2017 white supremacist melee would call on a hate group to “stand by” and wait to be called on in the same debate he fear-mongered about anti-fascist activists, ballot harvesting, and unfounded claims of mail carriers selling ballots and dumping them into a river.
On the social media platform Telegram, the hate group took Trump’s comments as marching orders.
“Standing by sir,” Tarrio wrote.
“Trump basically said to go fuck them up! this makes me so happy,” wrote Joe Biggs, a Proud Boys leader. “President Trump told the proud boys to stand by because someone needs to deal with ANTIFA…well sir! we’re ready!”
Before the end of the night, the self-described “western chauvinist” group had shared an image with the president’s words as a slogan around their logo.
The Proud Boys are well-known for showing up at events for left-wing causes, where they often attempt to escalate and incite violence.
And though the group claims no connection to the racist “alt-right,” Proud Boys founder McInnes (who abandoned the group in 2018 after its members assaulted people who protested a McInnes speech to the New York Metropolitan Republican Club), seems to have an affinity for Nazis. On McInnes’ web broadcast program CRTV, he has hosted countless white supremacists and bigots in favorable contexts.
In 2018, he told listeners to his web broadcast show that he believed it should be considered a hate crime if a person is called a “Nazi” while they are being hit. Earlier that year, Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt reported that in 2016, McInnes said, “I want violence. I want punching in the face. I’m disappointed in Trump supporters for not punching enough [protesters].”
As Holt reported then, “The qualifier for the highest rank of Proud Boy—known as the ‘Fourth Degree’—necessitates entering a physical conflict for their cause. Members of the Proud Boys havejoked about wanting to shoot and kill ‘antifa.’”
Now the group is emboldened by the incumbent president, who refuses to say whether, should he lose the election, he will respect the Constitution’s prescription for a peaceful transfer of power.
This article was originally published at Right Wing Watch and is reprinted here by permission.
Image via Shutterstock
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Trump Is a Threat to Democracy – Even if He Loses: Signorile
This article first appeared in Michelangelo Signorile’s Substack newsletter. To see the article in its original location or to subscribe, click here.
Here we’ve been for almost four years, worried that Donald Trump will destroy us if he wins re-election in two weeks.
But what about if he clearly and decisively loses? Prepare yourself for the fact that none of us is going to be able to take a vacation — even if he does accept the loss and vacates the White House in January.
Right now, Trump is projecting an air of invincibility. “We are going to win,” he told his campaign staffers yesterday. Later he told reporters, “I’m not running scared. I think I’m running angry. I’m running happy and I’m running very content ’cause I’ve done a great job.”
But this seems like damage control meant to stop the media from continuing to focus in on his rallies over the weekend, in which he pondered what would happen if he lost (“Maybe I’ll have to leave the country”) and begged suburban women for their votes (“Suburban women, please like me”).
According the Associated Press, quoting three campaign and White House officials, “Trump himself has alternated between disbelief and anger at the idea that he could lose to a candidate whom he views as washed up and incompetent.”
He’s freaking out. Even Trump, who often seems so out of touch with reality, sees what’s happening quite clearly. My hunch is that he knows it’s highly unlikely that he can turn things around this late in the game by switching positions, reaching out to women and people of color and others he’s losing badly, since voters are locked in and many despise him. And if he even tries, he’ll depress and possibly enrage his own base.
Another politician in such dire straits might just take that chance — certainly we’re seeing some GOP senators doing that, moving away a bit from Trump, though it’s likely far too late — but for Trump, a loss of support among his base after his re-election bid failed would be a loss of what he sees as a protective mass movement that will do anything for him.
Trump has got to be worried about investigations and prosecutions, and would no longer have the Justice Department, the military or the pardon power to wield as tools. And even if he tries to pardon himself for any crimes, which would ultimately go to the courts — or enacts the scenario his former fixer Michael Cohen envisions, in which he steps down in the lame duck, and Mike Pence briefly becomes president and pardons him — that won’t protect him from state charges.
To read the remainder of this article, visit Michelangelo Signorile’s Substack newsletter.
Topics for Final Presidential Debate Announced and Boy Will Donald Trump Be in Trouble
NBC News White House Correspondent Kristen Welker has just announced the topics for the final presidential debate next week on October 22 in Tennessee.
There are six topics, most of which are policy-driven topics, where Trump routinely is challenged. They were chosen by Welker, and released through the Commission on Presidential Debates, as the Associated Press reports.
They are: Fighting COVID-19, American Families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security, and Leadership.
Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been panned by Republicans and Democrats alike, and his approval rating on the issue, which most Americans place as the most important, is 57.4% disapprove, and just 39.8% approve, according to FiveThirtyEight‘s analysis.
The President may be a Republican but he’s never been a “family values” Republican as his sexual misconduct can attest.
Trump fails miserably on race. His handling of the Black Lives Matter protests elicited angry charges of fascism.
The President is a science and climate change denier who claims windmills cause cancer, pulled out of the Paris agreement, and expanded oil and gas drilling into areas never before seen, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. His decision to open the Eastern Seaboard to offshore drilling was criticized even by Republicans.
During the first debate when climate change was a topic Trump criticized that California has not “cleaned” its forests. (Most of California’s forests are federal lands, not state property.)
President Trump addresses climate change, forest management and California wildfires.
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) September 30, 2020
The President has no national security plans, and is widely known for having no interest in receiving what were once known as Daily Intelligence Briefings. In the Trump White House those are now just “intelligence briefings,” and Trump receives on average just four per month. His last intel briefing was more than three weeks ago, on September 22.
As for leadership, well, here’s what Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska told 17,000 of his constituents recently:
“The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership, the way he treats women, spends like a drunken sailor.”
He also said he did not think Trump’s leadership during the coronavirus pandemic has been “reasonable or responsible, or right.”
Trump Plants More Seeds for Refusing to Concede – Falsely Claims ‘Tens of Thousands’ of Ballots Are ‘Fraudulent’
President Donald Trump is building on his stunning remarks from last month, when he repeatedly refused to promise a peaceful transition of power should he lose re-election. Trump is the first United States president to ever refuse to honor centuries of accepted conduct.
Trump on Thursday falsely claimed there have already been “tens of thousands” of “fraudulent” ballots in this election.
“Look at these ballots that are being — tens of thousands of ballots are already fraudulent,” he told Fox News Business’ Stuart Varney. “I want to see a fair election. That’s all I’m asking for is a fair election.”
That’s actually not what he’s asking for, as evidenced by the massive voter intimidation and election interference campaigns he and his supporters have been waging.
“Under what circumstances would you concede?” Fox News Business’s Stuart Varney asked Trump during a telephone interview, as Raw Story reported.
“All I want is a fair election,” Trump claimed.
“So, it’s your judgement as to whether it’s fair or not as to whether you would concede?” Varney, a top Trump supporter, asked.
“Stuart, they always talk about the friendly transition,” Trump replied.
The term has always been “peaceful transition,” not “friendly transition.”
It’s an important distinction with a difference.
Trump is again making up “facts” so he can then use that to later defend his indefensible actions.
“They spied on my campaign and they got caught,” the President continued, lying. There was no spying on his campaign. Even the Dept. of Justice agrees, after it quietly closed down the false “unmasking” probe after finding no evidence of wrongdoing or criminal activity by anyone in the Obama administration.
“They tried to overthrow the president of the United States and they got caught,” Trump continued, again, a ludicrous lie. “And then they stand up so innocent and they say, ‘Will you, you know, do a fair transition?’ Well, they didn’t do a fair transition.”
Again, the term is “peaceful,” not “fair.”
Fair is subjective. Friendly is subjective. Peaceful is not.
“You’re implying if you don’t think it’s fair, you won’t leave the White House,” Varney pointed out, “which means you won’t concede.”
“I’m not saying anything!” Trump replied. “I’m saying this. I think everybody says it. You have to have a fair election. Look at these ballots that are being — tens of thousands of ballots are already fraudulent. I want to see a fair election. That’s all I’m asking for is a fair election.”
“But you know when they talk about a friendly transition, they spied on my campaign,” he added.
“If it wasn’t a friendly transition when you walked into the White House, does that mean that you’re not going to allow a friendly transition if Joe Biden walks into the White House?” Varney pressed.
Trump went on to claim, “people broke the law, people spied on my campaign and they act so innocent.”
“And we have all the evidence. We have so much evidence,” he insisted, which if it were true Attorney General Bill Barr, who has been acting as Trump’s personal attorney, would have brought charges.
VARNEY: Under what circumstances would you concede the election?
TRUMP: "All I want is a fair election"
V: So it's your judgment as to whether it's fair?
TRUMP: "Stuart — they always talk about the friendly transition. They spied on my campaign." [this is a lie] pic.twitter.com/f2CUV6N262
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 15, 2020
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