Trump’s dinner with Kanye — and another antisemite
Trump had dinner Tuesday at his Mar-a-Lago club with West, now known as Ye, and Nick Fuentes, a far-right activist who has used his online platform to spew antisemitic and white nationalist rhetoric.
Ye, who says he, too, is running for president in 2024, has made his own antisemitic comments in recent weeks, leading to his being suspended from social media platforms and being dropped by his talent agency and companies including Adidas. The sportswear manufacturer has also launched an investigation into his conduct.
In a statement from the White House, Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said, “Bigotry, hate and antisemitism have absolutely no place in America — including at Mar-a-Lago. Holocaust denial is repugnant and dangerous, and it must be forcefully condemned.”
Trump, in a series of statements Friday, said he had “never met and knew nothing about” Fuentes before he arrived with Ye. Trump did not acknowledge Fuentes’ long history of racist and antisemitic remarks, nor did he denounce either man’s defamatory statements.
The former president has a long history of failing to condemn hate speech. During his 2016 campaign, Trump equivocated when asked to denounce the Ku Klux Klan after he was endorsed by the group’s former leader, saying in a televised interview that he didn’t “know anything about David Duke.”
In 2017, in the aftermath of the deadly whitesupremacist protests in Charlottesville, Va., Trump declared that there was “blame on both sides” for the violence. His rallies frequently feature inflammatory rhetoric from figures such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who spoke this year at a far-right conference organized by Fuentes.
The Mar-a-Lago dinner, coming just one week after Trump launched his third run for the Republican nomination, underscores how loosely controlled access to the former president remains.
Mar-a-Lago recently came under scrutiny amid revelations that Trump was storing hundreds of documents with classified markings there, sparking a federal investigation, but it had long been a source of consternation among former White House aides. Mar-a-Lago is not only Trump’s home but a private club and event space. Paid members and their guests dine alongside him, and members of the public can book weddings, fundraisers and other events there.
Ye shared details of the dinner in a video he posted to his Twitter account Thursday. He said he had traveled to Florida to ask Trump to be his 2024 running mate, and the meeting grew heated, with Trump “perturbed” by the request and Ye angered by the former president’s criticism of Kim Kardashian, the rapper’s estranged wife.
“When Trump started basically screaming at me at the table telling me I was gonna lose. I mean, has that ever worked for anyone in history, telling Ye that I’m going to lose?” the rapper asked in the video. “You’re talking to Ye!”
Ye said Trump was “really impressed with Nick Fuentes,” whom he described as “actually a loyalist” and said he’d asked Trump, “Why when you had the chance did you not free the January 6th-ers?” referring to those convicted or alleged to have participated in the violent insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Trump, in his series of statements Friday, tried to explain the circumstances of the meeting.
“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,” Trump said in the first statement released by his campaign.
Not long after, Trump took to his social media network to say that Ye and “three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about” had “unexpectedly showed up” at his club.
“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,” he wrote. Hours later, he posted again, saying he had told Ye that he “should definitely not run for President” and that “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,’” Trump added. “Why wouldn’t I agree to meet? Also, I didn’t know Nick Fuentes.”
Fuentes said after the trip that while he couldn’t rule out that Trump had heard of him, “I don’t think he knew that I was me at the dinner.”
“I didn’t mean for my statements and my whole background to sort of become a public relations problem for the president,” he added on his show.
The meeting drew immediate criticism from Trump critics as well as some supporters, including David Friedman, who served as Trump’s ambassador to Israel.
“To my friend Donald Trump, you are better than this. Even a social visit from an antisemite like Kanye West and human scum like Nick Fuentes is unacceptable,” Friedman wrote on Twitter. “I urge you to throw those bums out, disavow them and relegate them to the dustbin of history where they belong.”
On Saturday, Michael R. Pompeo, Trump’s secretary of State and potential 2024 rival, denounced antisemitism, without directly referencing the dinner or the president under whom he served.
“Anti-Semitism is a cancer,” Pompeo wrote. “We stand with the Jewish people in the fight against the world’s oldest bigotry.”
President Biden, asked about the Trump dinner while vacationing in Nantucket, Mass., replied, “You don’t want to hear what I think.”
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