By Robert Farley
Asked about Donald Trump’s dinner meeting attended by Nick Fuentes, a white supremacist, Rep. Kevin McCarthy claimed the former president “came out four times and condemned him.” That’s not accurate. Trump had repeatedly said he didn’t know who Fuentes was, but he stopped short of condemning him or his ideas.
Trump, who has announced his candidacy to recapture the presidency, arranged a private dinner with Ye, the performer formerly known as Kanye West, at his Mar-a-Lago club two days before Thanksgiving. It was later revealed that Ye arrived with three guests, including Fuentes, who is described by the New York Times as “one of the country’s most prominent young white supremacists.” Ye has also drawn attention in recent weeks for antisemitic remarks.
The dinner meeting drew quick rebukes from Democrats and Republicans alike. In a press conference on Nov. 29, McCarthy, the House Republican leader, added his disapproval.
“I don’t think anybody should be spending any time with Nick Fuentes,” McCarthy said. “He has no place in this Republican Party. I think President Trump came out four times and condemned him, and didn’t know who he was.”
A reporter immediately responded, “Well, he just said he didn’t know who he was. He didn’t condemn him or his ideology.”
“Well, I condemn his ideology,” McCarthy said. “It has no place in society, at all.”
In fact, as the reporter noted, Trump had stopped short of condemning Fuentes, saying only that he didn’t know who Fuentes was at the time.
When the dinner meeting became public, Trump issued a statement saying, “Kanye West very much wanted to visit Mar-a-Lago. Our dinner meeting was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about.”
The day after Thanksgiving, Trump twice posted about the private dinner on Truth Social.
“This past week, Kanye West called me to have dinner at Mar-a-Lago,” Trump stated at 1:20 p.m. “Shortly thereafter, he unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about. We had dinner on Tuesday evening with many members present on the back patio. The dinner was quick and uneventful. They then left for the airport.”
“Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, was asking me for advice concerning some of his difficulties, in particular having to do with his business,” Trump wrote a few hours later. “We also discussed, to a lesser extent, politics, where I told him he should definitely not run for President, ‘any voters you may have should vote for TRUMP.’ Anyway, we got along great, he expressed no anti-Semitism, & I appreciated all of the nice things he said about me on ‘Tucker Carlson.’ Why wouldn’t I agree to meet? Also, I didn’t know Nick Fuentes.”
The following day, Nov. 26, Trump again posted about the meeting on Truth Social: “So I help a seriously troubled man, who just happens to be black, Ye (Kanye West), who has been decimated in his business and virtually everything else, and who has always been good to me, by allowing his request for a meeting at Mar-a-Lago, alone, so that I can give him very much needed ‘advice,’” Trump wrote. “He shows up with 3 people, two of which I didn’t know, the other a political person who I haven’t seen in years. I told him don’t run for office, a total waste of time, can’t win. Fake News went CRAZY!”
In none of those four statements did Trump specifically condemn Fuentes.
On Nov. 26, a Trump adviser told Fox News that Trump “always has been and continues to be the closest friend and ally to the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” noting the “historic Abraham Accords bringing peace to the Middle East, withdrawal from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal, appointing a special envoy to combat the scourge of anti-Semitism, moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, and recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights.”
The adviser’s mention of Elan Carr, Trump’s appointee as special envoy for monitoring and combating antisemitism, is notable because Carr took to Twitter on Nov. 28, calling on Trump to condemn Fuentes and Ye for their “disgusting and un-American views.”
No responsible American, and certainly no former President, should be cavorting with the likes of Nick Fuentes and Kanye West. To placate antisemitism is to promote antisemitism. President Trump must condemn these dangerous men and their disgusting and un-American views.
— Elan Carr (@ElanSCarr) November 28, 2022
It wasn’t until the evening of Nov. 29, several hours after McCarthy’s press conference, that Trump released a statement to Fox News Digital in which he “finally took a step toward saying what his advisers had been urging,” as Howard Kurtz of Fox News put it.
Of Fuentes, Trump said, “I had never heard of the man — I had no idea what his views were, and they weren’t expressed at the table in our very quick dinner, or it wouldn’t have been accepted.”
In his story about the statement, Kurtz commented, “Still, ‘wouldn’t have been accepted’ is a rather mild rebuke, rather than a condemnation of his despicable views.”
During McCarthy’s press conference, a reporter also noted that other Republicans have had interactions with Fuentes, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who earlier this year attended Fuentes’ America First Political Action Conference in Orlando. McCarthy cut off the question, however, saying, “She denounced him.”
But as had been the case with Trump, Greene claimed she didn’t know about Fuentes or his ideology.
“I do not know Nick Fuentes,” Greene told CBS News. “I’ve never heard him speak. I’ve never seen a video. I do not know what his views are so I am not aligned with anything that may be controversial.”
At the time, she also dodged condemnation of Fuentes. But that changed this week after she asked her staff to put together some video of Fuentes.
“What I did find out is I saw some videos of his in the past week because I asked my staff, ‘Can you pull some videos? I don’t even know how to watch this guy,’” Greene said. “And they showed me some videos. I could not believe the stuff he says. I mean, it was shocking.”
Greene told reporters she agreed with McCarthy’s statement that Fuentes’ views have “no place in the Republican Party.”
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