While discussing Donald Trump’s recent claims that the United States is going to “have big problems” if he’s indicted, “The View” hosts debated Friday whether such statements were meant to incite violence within his base and within extremist groups like the Proud Boys.
Alyssa Farah Griffin, the program’s newest co-host and former communications director for the Trump administration, emphasized that everyone should take the former president “seriously and literally with what he says” and that “he uses language intentionally to reach certain audiences.” Then, she added, surprisingly, that she actually didn’t know who the Proud Boys were while working for Trump. Co-host Sunny Hostin seemed stunned by her admission.
“I remember watching that ‘Proud Boys stand back and stand by’ [comment from Trump] and honestly I’d never even heard of the Proud Boys,” Farah Griffin said. “But I was like, there’s something weird about it. And it was very clearly, in retrospect after Jan. 6, meant to tell them, you know, you are my guys, stand by.”
Pressed by Hostin on why she wasn’t familiar with the white supremacist group prior to Trump’s notorious directive, Farah Griffin reiterated that she “didn’t know what it meant” and that “it wasn’t, honestly, until it came together and the Proud Boys started organizing and came out and violently protested” that she understood them to be a real threat and to be on alert for Trump’s Proud Boy dogwhistles.
“That’s so odd to me,” Hostin responded, saying that “of course” she knew who the Proud Boys were before Trump’s “stand by.”
“I’m in the business of knowing these things. I think Black people need to know enemies of people of color,” Hostin said, adding: “Quite frankly, not to push too much on you, it was your job to know about that.”
Farah Griffin explained that while she had top security clearance working for Trump, she didn’t know who the Proud Boys were because she was never briefed on them, citing a “gap in law enforcement.”
“I was briefed on a ton of violent extremist groups, even ones that he was encouraging. Never once were the Proud Boys briefed to me,” she said. “I had never heard of that group before until he said it on air. And I regret that I then said, I think I said: ‘It’s much ado about nothing.’ It didn’t mean anything to me. And then seeing what happened on Jan. 6 and then seeing Proud Boys come up saying, ‘Yeah, I was there because he told me to be’ – like, they’re admitting what we know. So when Trump comes out and says this stuff, people have to believe him.”
“That’s why educating this country is so important, educating this country about white supremacist organizations because domestic terrorism is the biggest threat to our democracy,” Hostin concluded, to audience applause.
Watch the full interaction in the video above.
For the record: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Alyssa Farah Griffin as a former press secretary for Donald Trump. She was the Trump administration’s communications director.