United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday sidestepped a question on white supremacists and refused to outright condemn them during the first of three presidential debates with his opponent in the upcoming election, Democrat and former Vice President Joe Biden.

The host, Fox News’ Chris Wallace, asked Trump if he would condemn white supremacists and ask them to stand down since he has repeatedly attacked Biden for “not specifically calling out antifa and other extremist groups”.

“Sure, I’m willing to do that,” Trump responded. When both Wallace and Biden urged him to do it, he instead claimed: “But I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing.”

He then added: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, somebody has to do something about antifa and the Left.” Proud Boys is a far-right, neo-fascist organisation that does not allow women and is opposed to issues such as the Black Lives Matter protests. It has also been accused of indulging in political violence in the US.

Antifa stands for anti-fascist and is a far-left extremist movement.

The 90-minute debate focussed on a number of key issues, including the Covid-19 crisis, climate change, the US economy and Trump’s tax returns but it was chaotic. At several moments over the course of the debate, Wallace had to yell over the US president and request that he stop interrupting. On one of these occasions, in fact, Trump interrupted Wallace just as he was asking the president to stop interrupting.

At one point, Biden told Trump: “Will you just shut up man?” At another instance, he said: “It’s hard to get any word in with this clown – excuse me, this person.”

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Personal taxes

Trump also refused to say when he would make his personal taxes public. On being asked a specific question about The New York Times report that said he had paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, Trump said: I paid millions of dollars in taxes, millions of dollars of income tax”.

He added that he will eventually release his taxes in public but refused to say when. He then added that as a private person and businessman, he found ways to pay less taxes. “People like every other private person, unless they’re stupid, they go through the laws. And that’s what it is,” Trump said.


Trump mentioned India twice during the debate, but not with the intent that his supporters in the country would have expected. Trump defended the United States’ performance in managing the coronavirus pandemic by comparing the number of deaths in the country to allegedly dubious figures put out by China, Russia, and India.

“When you talk about numbers, you don’t know how many people died in China, you don’t know how many people died in Russia, you don’t know how many people died in India. They don’t exactly give you (a) straight count,” Trump said, countering Biden’s accusations that the pandemic was ill-managed in the US.

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‘India doesn’t exactly give a straight count on Covid-19 deaths’: Donald Trump in first debate