NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – Former President Donald Trump again drew attention to his long history of turning a blind eye to bigotry when he dined with a Holocaust-denying white nationalist and rapper formerly known as Kanye West. Within days, he announced a new campaign for the White House.
Trump dined 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 criticize anti-Semitism and white supremacy. Done for nationalist rhetoric.
Yeh, who says he is also a 2024 presidential candidate, has made a series of anti-Semitic comments of his own in recent weeks, resulting in him being suspended from the social media platform by his talent agency. has been removed and removed. their relationship with him.
In a White House statement, spokesman Andrew Bates said, “Bigotry, hatred and anti-Semitism have no place in the United States of America, not even in Mar-a-Lago. Holocaust denial is abhorrent and dangerous.” It is, and it should be strongly condemned.
Trump said in a series of comments made Friday that he had “never met and knew nothing” about Fuentes before he accompanied Ye to his club. But Trump also failed to acknowledge Fuentes’ long history of racist and anti-Semitic remarks, nor did he criticize the man for making derogatory statements.
Trump wrote of Yeh on his social media platforms that “we got along great, he didn’t express any anti-Semitism, and I appreciate all the nice things ‘Tucker Carlson’ said about me.”
“Why won’t I agree to meet?” He added.
The former president has a long record of failing to unequivocally condemn hate speech. During his 2016 campaign, Trump faltered when asked to openly denounce the KKK after the group’s former leader endorsed him, claiming in a televised interview that he “knew nothing about David Duke”. Were.” In 2017, after deadly white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump was heavily criticized for calling “blame on both sides” for the violence. and US Rep. Inflammatory rhetoric from figures such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, who earlier this year spoke at a far-right conference organized by Fuentes, often occurs at his rallies.
The latest episode, which comes just a week after Trump launched his third run for the Republican nomination for president, also highlights how much controlled access remains for the former president, especially without traditional campaign operations.
Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club came under intense scrutiny after revelations that the former president stored hundreds of classified documents there, prompting a federal investigation. But the club — and the people Trump gave access to — had long been a source of consternation among former White House advisers.
Mar-a-Lago is not only Trump’s home, but also a private club and event space. Paying members and their guests dine with him and often hang out with him; Members of the public can book weddings and other events, and Trump often attends those events.
Ye first shared details of the dinner in a video posted on his Twitter account on Thursday. Ye said that he had traveled to Florida to ask Trump as his running mate in 2024, and that the meeting had become heated because Trump was “upset” by his request and Trump’s criticism of his wife, Kim Kardashian. He was angry with from whom he is separated.
“When Trump started basically yelling at me, telling me I was going to lose. I mean, has he ever worked for anyone in history, tell me I’m going to lose?” Ye asked in the video. “You’re talking to Ye.”
Yeh also indicated that Trump was “really impressed with Nick Fuentes,” whom he described as “really helpful” and said that he had asked Trump: “When you had the chance, did you speak on January 6th?” Why not release?” Defendants who participated in the deadly riot at the Federal Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Trump issued a series of statements on Friday in which he attempted to explain the circumstances of the meeting.
“Kanye West really wanted to go to Mar-a-Lago. Our dinner was just for me and Kanye, but he came with a guest he’d never met and knew nothing about, Trump said in his first statement released by his campaign.
Shortly thereafter, Trump said on social media that he and “three of his friends, whom he knew nothing about”, had “shown up” at his club.
“We had dinner on Tuesday night with several of the members in the backyard. Dinner was quick and uneventful. Then they went to the airport,” he wrote.
Hours later, he reposted saying that he had said that he “definitely should not run for president” and that “whatever electorate he has, he should vote for Trump.”
“Anyway, we were very nice, he didn’t express any anti-Semitism, and I appreciated all the nice things he said about me on ‘Tucker Carlson,'” she said. Why don’t I agree to meet? Besides, I didn’t know Nick Fuentes.”
For his part, Fuentes said after the visit that, although he could not deny that Trump had heard of him, “I don’t think he knew it was me at the dinner.”
“It was not my intention that my statements and my entire record become any kind of public relations problem for the president,” he said on his program.
The meeting drew immediate criticism from Trump critics and some supporters such as David Friedman, who was Trump’s ambassador to Israel.
“To my friend Donald Trump: You are better than this. Even the social visitation of anti-Semites like Kanye West and human scum like Nick Fuentes is unacceptable,” Friedman wrote in a tweet. to pick out these bums, reject them, and put them in the dustbin of history where they belong.”
On Saturday, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, also denounced anti-Semitism, without directly mentioning the president at the dinner or working with him.
“Anti-Semitism is a cancer,” Pompeo wrote, adding: “We stand with the Jewish people in the fight against the world’s oldest bigotry.”
For his part, President Joe Biden, when asked about the meeting with Trump while on vacation in Nantucket, Massachusetts, replied: “You don’t want to hear what I think.”