Former President Donald Trump struck his most defensive tone yet on Saturday after his controversial dinner with white supremacist Nick Fuentes and embattled rapper Kanye West drew criticism from other Republicans, claiming he agreed to the meeting in an effort to “help” West, whom he called a “seriously troubled man.”
Trump, in a Truth Social post on Saturday evening, blamed “Fake News” for the backlash following the dinner and said he met with West—whose legal name is Ye—to “give him very much needed ‘advice,’” after West asked to talk to Trump alone.
Trump reversed course on his previous claim that he did not know the three other guests (which included Fuentes and his former Florida campaign director Karen Giorno), admitting one was “a political person who I haven’t seen in years,” apparently referring to Giorno.
Trump said previously in a Friday afternoon Truth Social post that West “unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about”—and also said Friday he “didn’t know Nick Fuentes.”
Trump hosted West and Fuentes, a 24-year-old political extremist known for his white supremacist and antisemitic beliefs, at Mar-A-Lago on Tuesday, igniting intense scrutiny from both sides of the aisle and sending his own team into damage-control mode. One longtime Trump adviser said the dinner has become “a f—-ing nightmare” for the campaign, NBC News reported. Trump, meanwhile, has attempted to downplay the meeting, calling it “quick and uneventful.” Without denouncing antisemitism himself, Trump said West—who has drawn criticism for a string of antisemitic remarks in recent weeks—“expressed no antisemitism” during the meeting in a Truth Social post earlier this week. He also said he “appreciated all of the nice things” West said about him to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, writing “Why wouldn’t I agree to meet?”
On Sunday, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) became the latest GOP members to join in criticizing the former president’s dinner. Comer told NBC News’ Meet The Press that Trump “needs better judgment in who he dines with” and said he would not take a meeting with West or Fuentes. Hutchinson, calling the dinner “very troubling,” suggested it could empower extremists. “You want to diminish their strength, not empower them. Stay away from them,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union.
West announced he would run for president in 2024 in an explosive video posted to Twitter on Thanksgiving Day in which he accused Trump of insulting his ex-wife Kim Kardashian at the Mar-A-Lago dinner. Trump said on Truth Social he urged West not to run for president and told him it would be a “waste of time.” West also alleged in the video that Trump “screamed” at him and was “really impressed” with Fuentes. There could be some truth to the latter claim: The New York Times reported Trump was flattered that Fuentes preferred Trump’s impromptu speeches opposed to prewritten teleprompter remarks, citing an unnamed person who was at the dinner. “He gets me,” Trump reportedly said of Fuentes.
Nick Fuentes: Meet The Gen-Z White Supremacist Who Dined With Trump And Kanye West (Forbes)
Kanye West—Under Misconduct Investigation By idas—Launches 2024 Presidential Campaign. Here’s What To Know. (Forbes)