Former President Trump had dinner with white nationalist Nick Fuentes this week at his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida, Axios first reported on Friday.
The dinner happened on Tuesday night alongside rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, who had said Trump was “basically screaming at me at the table” when he asked the former president to be his running mate in 2024.
Ye alluded to the meal and Fuentes’s presence in a video posted to Twitter on Friday.
“So Trump is really impressed with Nick Fuentes, and Nick Fuentes, unlike so many of the lawyers, and so many of the people that he was left with on his 2020 campaign, he’s actually a loyalist,” Ye said in the video, titled “Mar-a-Lago debrief.”
The Justice Department has called Fuentes a white supremacist, and he is known for his racist and antisemitic rhetoric, including casting doubts on the Holocaust.
Ye, who has faced a wave of pushback for his own antisemitic comments this year, had also run for president in 2020 after visiting Trump in the Oval Office.
“Kanye West very much wanted to visit Mar-a-Lago,” Trump said in a statement to Axios. “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.”
In a second statement posted Friday evening on his Truth Social platform, Trump added he “didn’t know Nick Fuentes.”
“Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, was asking me for advice concerning some of his difficulties, in particular having to do with his business. We also discussed, to a lesser extent, politics, where I told him he should definitely not run for President, ‘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.’ Why wouldn’t I agree to meet?” Trump said.
The Hill has reached out to representatives for Trump and Fuentes for further comment.
Trump last week formally entered the 2024 race for the White House, his third serious presidential bid.
So far, he is the only prominent Republican to enter the race to challenge President Biden, but multiple other GOP officials and members of the Trump administration, including former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have acknowledged they may mount a challenge.
Fuentes, a prominent supporter of Trump’s false claims of a stolen election in 2020, was among the leaders of the “America First” movement subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 House committee.
He was on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021, but has not been accused of entering the building during the riot. The day after insurrection, he reportedly wrote on Twitter, “The Capitol Siege was f—ing awesome and I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t.”
Far-right GOP Reps. Paul Gosar (Ariz.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) both took criticism from their own party after speaking at a March event organized by Fuentes.
The New York Times, which on Friday afternoon confirmed Trump’s dinner with Fuentes, reported that the sit-down was sharply condemned by Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, who said the idea that Trump “or any serious contender for higher office would meet with him and validate him by sharing a meal and spending time is appalling. And really, you can’t say that you oppose hate and break bread with haters. It’s that simple.”
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), a former Trump ally who is also said to be weighing a White House bid, told the Times that “This is just another example of an awful lack of judgment from Donald Trump, which, combined with his past poor judgments, make him an untenable general election candidate for the Republican Party in 2024.”
—Updated at 6:04 p.m.