Schumer Floor Remarks On President Trump Refusing To Condemn The White Supremacist Group Proud Boys

September 30, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) today spoke on the Senate floor decrying President Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacy and the white supremacist group ‘Proud Boys’ when prompted during last night’s presidential debate. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Last night, President Trump delivered one of the most disgraceful performances at a presidential debate that anyone has ever seen. And I don’t mean that from a political perspective, I mean that from a human perspective.

One can become inured to the president’s tendency melt down when confronted with the facts, his brazen lack of self-awareness, his stunning lack of regard for others. But it was maddening to watch the president last night, angry and small, unable to show a scintilla of respect, unable to follow even the most basic rules of human civility or decorum, unwilling to constrain a stream of obvious falsehoods and right-wing bile.

Shakespeare summed up in Macbeth President Trump’s performance last night: “a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Yes, President Trump's debate performance was, in the words of Macbeth, “a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

In an hour and a half that felt like a lifetime, the president managed to insult Vice President Biden’s deceased son and smear a living one, please a fringe white supremacist group, and capped the night off by yet again casting doubt on our own elections—tarnishing our own democracy.

Those were just his worst moments. The rest of the debate saw the president heap lie upon lie; lies big and small and every size in between.

This president and truth don't intersect at all.

Still, one moment stands out. Asked to condemn white supremacist groups like the “Proud Boys”—classified a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, called “hard-core white supremacists” by the anti-Defamation League—President Trump demurred, and then said: “Proud Boys—stand back and stand by.”

“Stand back and stand by.”

President Obama once wondered, rhetorically: “how hard is it to say that Nazis are bad?”

Apparently, for President Trump, it is beyond his capacity. In a national debate, he not only refused to condemn a far-right group of violent, white supremacists, he told them to “stand by.”

As much of the country was in despair last night at the president’s juvenile behavior, one group was celebrating: the Proud Boys. That’s who was celebrating President Trump’s debate performance: white supremacists. Within minutes of the president’s comments, the Proud Boys were online, rejoicing at the tacit endorsement of their violent tactics by the president himself.

They made logos out of the president’s remarks: stand back and stand by.

I just want to ask my Republican colleagues: How are you not embarrassed that President Trump represents your party? How can you possibly, possibly, support anyone who behaves this way?

Are you watching the same person that we are? Are you listening?

Are you not embarrassed that millions of Americans watch President Trump and think — now that’s what the Republican Party stands for now? Can’t express sympathy for the families of 200,000 Americans that died from COVID; can’t go thirty seconds without interrupting someone when he’s not speaking; can’t refrain from attacking someone’s family and pretending not to know a person’s deceased son; can’t honor the military, defend democracy, respect elections, or tell the truth; can’t even make it through the debate without emboldening white supremacists?

How are you, my Senate colleagues, not deeply, utterly, personally embarrassed that Donald Trump is a Republican? How are we all not embarrassed that someone who behaves the way President Trump did last night is our president?

I know that I am. How about you?