Trump Presses Biden to Clarify Stance on Antifa After Question Dodged During First Debate

October 1, 2020 Updated: October 1, 2020

President Donald Trump on Wednesday urged Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to clarify his stance on Antifa, the anti-fascist far-left movement.

“Joe Biden has to say something about Antifa. It’s not a philosophy. These are people that hit people over the head with baseball bats. He’s got to come out and he’s got to be strong, and he’s got to condemn Antifa. And it’s very important that he does that,” Trump told reporters at the White House before leaving for a campaign rally in Duluth, Minnesota.

Prior to urging Biden to condemn Antifa, Trump asked the all-male, right-wing group Proud Boys to “stand down” and “let law enforcement do their work.”

“They have to stand down … Whatever group you’re talking about, let law enforcement do the work,” he replied to a reporter.

The president asked the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during the first presidential debate on Tuesday night when Biden identified the group as moderator Chris Wallace pressed the president to condemn white supremacists and right-wing militias.

According to the Proud Boys website, the group’s core values include supporting free speech and gun rights, being against the war on drugs and racism, supporting minimal government, and strong borders. “This is a reprehensible group,” Hogan Gidley, the Trump campaign’s spokesman said Wednesday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has classified the Proud Boys as a so-called hate group, although the center has been accused of being “a far-left organization with an obvious bias.”

Trump then pressured Biden to denounce Antifa.

“But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing,” he said.

Biden dodged the question by saying that Antifa is “an idea, not an organization,” citing Trump’s FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Trump then warned Biden about the far-left group.

“Antifa is a dangerous radical group,” he said. “And you ought to be careful of them, they’ll overthrow you.”

Trump is planning to designate Antifa and the Ku Klux Klan—a white supremacist group—as terrorist organizations, he said on Sept. 25.

Biden did condemn violence from all groups, including the police, while adding that he doesn’t support defunding the police.

The Democratic presidential nominee has previously condemned Antifa during an interview with WGAL.

“Yes, I do. Violence no matter who it is,” he responded when asked by a reporter if he condemns Antifa.

However, the Democratic nominee rarely voices a clear public stance on the anarchist-communist group.

The Biden campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment immediately.

Epoch Times Photo
A protester taunts police as they disperse a crowd of about 150 people from around Portland City Hall, in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 25, 2020. Protests and riots have been a nightly occurrence in the city since May. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Amid waves of protests and riots across the country, the federal government and experts have said that Antifa played a role in the unrest.

Bernard B. Kerik, former police commissioner of the New York City Police Department, told The Epoch Times back in June that Antifa “100 percent exploited these protests,” noting that their various websites control and dictate where protests start.

“It’s in 40 different states and 60 cities; it would be impossible for somebody outside of Antifa to fund this,” he said. “It’s a radical, leftist, socialist attempt at revolution.”

Attorney General William Barr said back in early September that members of the extremist Antifa network were flying around the country to participate in riots.

“I’ve talked to every police chief in every city where there has been major violence and they all have identified Antifa as the ramrod for the violence,” Barr said during an interview with CNN’s “Situation Room.”

“They are flying around the country. We know people who are flying around the country. We know where they’re going.”

Epoch Times Photo
A man on a bike rides past a city truck on fire outside the Kenosha County Courthouse during riots following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., on Aug. 23, 2020. (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY via Reuters)

The Trump administration has taken a strong stand to restore law and order during the riots. The Justice Department (DOJ) and FBI have confirmed that they are actively investigating the groups responsible for rioting and violence.

Wray named Antifa as one of the groups whose members are under investigation during a congressional hearing on Sept. 24.

“Antifa is a real thing. It is not a fiction. Now, we have seen organized tactical activity at both the local and regional level. We have seen Antifa adherents coalescing and working together in what I would describe as small groups and nodes,” the FBI director told Congress.

Mimi Nguyen Ly and Zachary Stieber contributed to the report.

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