He also said at the first presidential debate that he “urged” his supporters to show up at polling locations as he stoked baseless fears about widespread election fraud.

President Donald Trump told the Proud Boys, a far-right mens organization with a history of instigating violence, to stand back and stand by, after being asked to condemn white supremacists and militia groups during the first presidential debate Tuesday night.
Minutes later, he said he was urging my people who are poll watchers to go to voting locations across the country to do what, he wouldnt exactly say as he baselessly claimed the election is rife with fraud.
Trumps comments are part of his campaigns pattern of dog whistles and overt appeals to violent groups, white supremacists, and his most fervent supporters to take matters into their own hands and defend him and his divisive ideologies at all costs. The Proud Boys, which the Southern Poverty Law Center says has affiliations with known extremists, celebrated Trumps shout to them before the debate had even ended.
Trumps appeals come as protests calling for racial justice continue around the nation and as people prepare to vote during a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 in the US alone.
In a recent campaign ad, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr. called for an army of able-bodied men and women to watch the polls on Election Day: We need every able-bodied man and woman to join [the] Army for Trumps election security operation,” he said. We need you to help us watch them.
And several weeks ago, a 17-year-old law-enforcement obsessed Trump supporter showed up at protests in Kenosha after police shot and severely injured a Black man and opened fire, killing two people and injuring a third.
Trumps statement about the Proud Boys came at the end of a long line of questioning over racism amid civil unrest over the police killings of Black people.
Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha and as weve seen in Portland, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, the moderator, asked.
Trump responded, sure, Im willing to do that, but added the caveat that everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing. He then asked who exactly he was supposed to condemn, asking Wallace to give me a name.
Wallace again asked Trump to condemn white supremacists and right-wing militia, as former Vice President Joe Biden chimed in, saying Proud Boys.
Trump then said, Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.
But Ill tell you what, Ill tell you what. Somebodys got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right wing problem this is a left wing, this is a left wing problem, Trump added. Trump and the right often incorrectly use the word Antifa as a catch all for anything from peaceful protests to riots, insinuating it is a group that commits coordinated, far-left violence.
Biden responded, saying that, Antifa is an idea, not an organization.
During the debate, Biden also brought up the presidents very fine people on both sides comments. Trump has also called supporters for the QAnon mass delusion, who have perpetrated violent acts, people who love our country.
The presidents comment energized the Proud Boys and their supporters. On Telegram, one person posted, in all caps, Trump didnt disavow the Proud Boys. The official channel for the group posted a gif of a wide-eyed cat, a clip from the debate, and a message, saying, Standing down and standing by sir. One person posted a video of him cheering. The Seattle chapter of the group quickly wrapped the presidents words around their logo, like a slogan. On Parler, another organizer said the president basically said to go fuck them up, saying the remarks made them so happy.
Later in the debate, Trump called on his supporters to go to polling locations as he sowed mass panic over the integrity of the vote. Trump who called the presidential election he won rigged against him is trailing in the polls to Biden.
Continuing his and his campaigns baseless claims about mass ballot fraud, Trump called on supporters to watch the polls and defend the ballot. The messages have provoked concerns of voter intimidation.
I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen, Trump said, then made reference to an incident in Philadelphia earlier Tuesday where his poll watchers were allegedly not allowed to observe early voting. A lot remains unknown about the incident.
And I am urging, I am urging my people, I hope it’s going to be a fair election. If it’s a fair election, I am 100% on board. But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I cant go along with that, he said.
Trump has a history of instigating his followers to violence, During his campaign for the 2016 election, he would encourage supporters at his rallies to get physical with protesters. At one event, a Trump supporter squarely punched another man in the face.