NEW YORK (AP) – Former President donald trump renews attention to his long history of turning a blind eye to bigotry after having dinner with a white nationalist Holocaust denier and the rapper formerly known as Kanye West only a few days his third campaign for the White House.
Trump dined at his Mar-a-Lago club on Tuesday with West, who is now known as Ye, as well as Nick Fuentes, a far-right activist who has used his online platform to spew anti-Semitic and nationalist rhetoric white.
Ye, who says he too is running for president in 2024, made his own series of anti-Semitic comments in recent weeksresulting in his suspension from social media platforms, his talent agency dumps him and companies like Adidas cut ties with him. The sportswear manufacturer has also launched an investigation in his conduct.
In a statement from the White House, spokesman Andrew Bates said, “Bigotry, hatred and anti-Semitism have absolutely no place in America, including at Mar-A-Lago. Holocaust denial is repugnant and dangerous, and it must be strongly condemned.
Trump, in a series of statements on Friday, said he had “never met and knew nothing about” Fuentes before arriving with Ye at his club. But Trump didn’t acknowledge Fuentes either. long history of racist and anti-Semitic remarks, nor to denounce the defamatory remarks of one or the other.
Trump wrote of Ye on his social media platform that “we got along great, he expressed no anti-Semitism, and I appreciated all the nice things he said about me on ‘Tucker. Carlson “.” I agree to meet you? »
The former president has a long history of unequivocally not condemning hate speech. During his 2016 campaign, Trump hesitated when asked to denounce the KKK after being endorsed by the group’s former leader, stating in a TV interview that he “knew nothing about David Duke”. In 2017, following the deadly white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump was widely criticized for saying there was “responsibility on both sides” for the violence. And its rallies frequently feature inflammatory rhetoric from figures like U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who spoke earlier this year at a far-right conference hosted by Fuentes.
The latest episode, coming just a week after Trump launched his third race for the Republican nomination, also underscored how access to the former president remained loosely controlled, especially without a traditional campaign operation in place.
Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club has come under scrutiny amid revelations that Trump was store hundreds of documents with classified markings there – triggering a federal investigation. But the club — and the people it gave Trump access to — has long been a source of consternation among former White House aides.
Mar-a-Lago is not only Trump’s home, but also a private club and event space. Paid members and their guests dine with him and often mingle with him; members of the public can book weddings, fundraisers and other events, and Trump drops by often.
Ye first shared the dinner details in a video he posted to his Twitter account on Thursday. Ye said he traveled to Florida to ask Trump to be his 2024 running mate, and the meeting grew heated, with Trump “disturbed” by his request and Ye angered by Trump’s criticism at the towards his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian.
“When Trump started yelling at me at the table telling me I was going to lose. I mean, has it ever worked for anyone in history, telling Ye I’m going to lose? You asked in the video. “You’re talking to Ye!”
Ye also said Trump was “really impressed with Nick Fuentes”, who he described as “actually a loyalist” and said he asked Trump: “Why, when you had the chance, didn’t you release on January 6?” referring to defendants who allegedly took part in the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Trump released a series of statements Friday trying to explain the circumstances of the meeting.
“Kanye West really wanted to visit Mar-a-Lago. Our dinner date was supposed to be Kanye and me only, but it happened with a guest I had never met and knew nothing about,” Trump said in his first statement released by his campaign.
Shortly after, Trump took to his social media network to say that Ye and “three of his friends, who I knew nothing about” had “shown up unexpectedly” at his club.
“We had dinner on Tuesday evening with many members present on the back terrace. 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 “definitely shouldn’t run for president” and that “every voter you might have should vote for TRUMP.”
“Anyway, we got on really well, he didn’t express any anti-Semitism, and I appreciated all the nice things he said about me in ‘Tucker Carlson,'” he said. added. “Why wouldn’t I agree to meet you?” Also, I didn’t know Nick Fuentes.
Fuentes, meanwhile, said after the trip that, while he couldn’t rule out Trump hearing about him, “I don’t think he knew I was me at dinner.”
“I didn’t want my statements and my whole journey to become in some way a public relations issue 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 worth more than this. Even a social visit from an anti-Semite like Kanye West and a human scum like Nick Fuentes is unacceptable,” Friedman wrote in a tweet. “I urge you to throw these bums out, to disavow them and relegate them to the dustbin of history where they belong.”
On Saturday, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a potential 2024 rival, also denounced anti-Semitism, without directly referring to the dinner or the president under whom he served.
“Anti-Semitism is a cancer,” Pompeo wrote, adding, “We stand with the Jewish people in the fight against the world’s oldest bigotry.”
Biden, when asked about Trump’s dinner date while on vacation in Nantucket, Massachusetts, replied, “You don’t want to hear what I think.”