Trump tries to backtrack on Proud Boys comments after refusing to condemn far-right extremists

Video report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore

Donald Trump has denied knowing what the Proud Boys group is in the wake of widespread criticism after he failed to condemn the group in the first presidential debate.

In among a chaotic opening debate of the 2020 election, one of the headline-dominating moments was the president's refusal to denounce white supremacists.

Challenged by Democrat candidate Joe Biden, Mr Trump appeared to tell extremist group, the Proud Boys, to "stand down and stand by".

A far-right group, the Proud Boys is an all-male, anti-immigrant organisation with a history of street violence against its liberal opponents.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Trump tried to distance himself from his roundly criticised comments made during the debate: "I don’t know who the Proud Boys are."

He added: "Whoever they are, they have to stand down. Let law enforcement do their work."

Leaders and supporters of the group have already celebrated Mr Trump's comments during the debate.

A channel on Telegram, an instant messaging service, with more than 5,000 Proud Boys members posted "Stand Back" and "Stand By" above and below the group's logo.

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The president once infamously said there were good people “on both sides” after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which saw one counter-protester killed.

FBI Director Christopher Wray told a congressional panel last week that white supremacists and anti-government extremists have been responsible for most of the recent deadly attacks by extremist groups within the U.S.