Former US President Donald Trump speaks at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, on November 15, 2022 (ALON SKUY/AFP via Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump had dinner with a well-known white supremacist and antisemite, and refused to denounce him after the fact because doing so might alienate his base, according to the Guardian, raising some questions about what Trump believes about his own base.
The rapper Ye and far-right white supremacist troll Nick Fuentes were among those who dined with Trump at Mar-a-Lago on Nov. 22, both Ye and Trump confirmed last week. On Thursday Ye posted a “debriefing” video in which he told professional shitposter and onetime Marjorie Taylor Greene intern Milo Yiannopolous that he and Trump two argued over Ye’s plans to run for president in 2024, but that Trump was “really impressed” with far-right Fuentes, whom Ye called a Trump “loyalist.”
Fuentes is a 24-year-old Holocaust denier and unrepentant racist who has frequently touted the white supremacist “Great Replacement” theory, claimed the U.S. has a “Jewish occupied government,” favorably compared Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler, and referred to the votes of Black people as “[n-word] votes.”
Trump confirmed he’d had dinner with Ye Friday, but only barely acknowledged Fuentes. According to the Guardian, Trump’s advisers encouraged him to disavow Fuentes over the weekend, but the former president refused because he didn’t want to anger his base.
Fuentes reportedly told Trump during the dinner that he was unimpressed with his 2024 campaign announcement because it wasn’t “authentic” Trump. Trump reportedly responded: “He gets me.”
In public statements, however, Trump did his best to avoid acknowledging Fuentes’ existence. “This past week, Kanye West called me to have dinner at Mar-a-Lago. Shortly thereafter, he unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about,” Trump said in a Truth Social post.
“We had dinner on Tuesday evening with many members present on the back patio,” Trump said. “The dinner was quick and uneventful. They then left for the airport.”
The “three friends” included Fuentes and former Trump campaign strategist Karen Giorno, according to Politico. Giorno is now working for Ye, who is also running for president in 2024; Trump reportedly became angry when Ye asked him to be his vice presidential running mate.
Trump downplayed the rift in another post on Truth Social on Friday. “We got along great, [Ye] 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,” Trump added.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who has criticized Trump over his lies about the 2020 election, said in an interview with CNN Sunday that Trump meeting with white supremacists is “very troubling and it shouldn’t happen and we need to avoid those kind of empowering the extremes.”
Even some of Trump’s staunchest allies have publicly condemned his dinner party with Ye and Fuentes. “Even a social visit from an antisemite like Kanye West and human scum like Nick Fuentes is unacceptable,” David Friedman, who served as Trump’s ambassador to Israel during the entirety of his presidency, said in a tweet. “I urge you to throw those bums out, disavow them and relegate them to the dustbin of history where they belong.”
But Trump has a long history of tepid denunciations of the far-right, even when it’s directly responsible for violence. After white supremacists marched in the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally in 2017 and a neo-Nazi drove through a crowd of leftist counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer, Trump largely blamed the left for the violence and said there were “very fine people on both sides.”
And during his first presidential campaign in 2016, Trump was asked about former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke supporting him. Trump claimed he didn’t know who Duke was, before later blaming a “lousy earpiece” for misunderstanding the question and disavowing the white supremacist leader.
But at the time, Trump reportedly wasn’t in a hurry to condemn Duke and other white supremacists. “A lot of these people vote,” Trump told then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, according to a book by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman released this year.
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