At the first presidential debate of 2020, Donald Trump goes into full authoritarian mode, demanding complete attention and praise from both Joe Biden and host Chris Wallace.
Trump repeats his usual conspiracies, as expected. The most alarming moments of the night, though, come with the topics of white supremacy and election interference.
Trump’s own government, despite his best efforts, has deemed white supremacy extremist groups the most lethal domestic threat to the country.
When asked by Wallace if he would condemn white supremacists and militia groups, Trump says of course he would. Then, he refuses to do so. He gives them marching orders instead.
Trump: I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing… Do you want to call them– What do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name. Go ahead! Who would you like me to condemn?
Wallace: White supremacists, and–
Biden: Proud Boys.
Wallace: White supremacists and right-wing militias.
Trump: Proud Boys, stand back and stand by!
The Proud Boys militia immediately takes to social media, saying “Standing down and standing by, sir.”
But wait, there’s more.
When the topic turns to election interference, Trump refuses to agree to accepting the results of the election. Instead, he tells his supporters to guard the polls on election day, which is voter intimidation. Voter intimidation is against federal law and is punishable by a fine and/or up to one year in prison.
Wallace: Will you urge your supporters to stay calm during this extended period, not to engage in any civil unrest, and will you pledge tonight that you will not declare victory until the election has been independently certified?
Trump: I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it.
Incitement — encouraging someone to break the law — is also a crime.
To end this file on a lighter note, here are some of the more laughable quotes from Donald Trump throughout the night:
“You’re a ‘number two.'”
“If Pocahontas would have left two days early, you would have lost every primary on Super Tuesday.”
“I’m the one that brought back football! By the way, I brought back Big 10 football. It was me, and I’m very happy to do it!”