Former US president Donald Trump defended a recent meeting in Florida with a known white nationalist and Holocaust revisionist who openly espouses antisemitic conspiracy theories and said that he previously knew nothing about him when he accompanied rapper Kanye West to a dinner at the Mar-a-Lago golf resort on Tuesday.
A Trump adviser confirmed to US media on Friday that Nick Fuentes, described as a white supremacist by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Justice Department, attended the dinner with West and two other people. The former president issued a statement to CBS News denying knowledge of who Fuentes was, and took to right-wing site Truth Social to tell followers that West “unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends” and that the dinner was “quick and uneventful.”
Trump said that West — who has himself been embroiled in a string of antisemitic scandals in recent months and whose account was suspended and reinstated by Twitter after the Elon Musk takeover — “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,” he told CBS News in a statement in reference to Fuentes.
Fuentes rose to prominence during Trump’s presidency as a far-right leader of the openly racist and antisemitic “Groyper” movement, conceived in the notorious message board 4chan where members post anonymously. Fuentes was involved in the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville where American neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and far-right militias marched in the street and where a counter-protester was run over and killed by a self-identified white supremacist who rammed his vehicle into a crowd of people.
An organizer and podcaster who embraced Trump’s “America First” nationalist policy, Fuentes was also at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 where Trump supporters stormed the building and attacked police officers in a failed bid to thwart the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory in November 2020.
Fuentes — who has questioned the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust, and believes that Israel has a malicious influence on US policy — has also been banned from several social media platforms.
In a video posted by Washington-based non-governmental organization Right Wing Watch last month, Fuentes is heard calling Jewish people a “hostile tribal elite” who “run” the US.
White nationalist Christian fascist Nick Fuentes went on a rant against "world Jewry," calling Jews a "hostile tribal elite" who worship the Devil and have established an "anti-Christ" nation in Israel: "Who else would be leading the insurrection against the true kingdom?" pic.twitter.com/i4mP7lI4jj
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) October 26, 2022
“The anti-Christ is the Jewish state of Israel… They call themselves Israel, the world Jewry… the real Israel is the believers of Christ… They have set up a fake Israel, a fake Israel country, and a fake Israel nation, this organized Jewish influence….,” Fuentes rants incoherently in the video.
“Who else would be leading the revolution [against Christians], who else would be behind it other than the devil. You could say it’s the Left, and behind that it’s the Jews, and behind that it’s the Devil, what else would it be?” Fuentes goes on.
Fuentes was condemned earlier this year by the Republican Jewish Coalition, which said he “has actively spread antisemitic bile, mocked the Holocaust and promoted dangerous anti-Israel conspiracy theories.”
Trump’s dinner with Fuentes and West comes over a week after the former president announced that he would run again in 2024. West too hinted at a 2024 presidential bid on Friday.
In a separate post on Truth Social on Friday, Trump said West asked him “for advice concerning some of his difficulties, in particular having to do with his business” during their Mar-a-Lago meeting.
“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? Also, I didn’t know Nick Fuentes,” he wrote.
But West said on Thursday that Trump had been “really impressed” by the white supremacist Fuentes at their dinner. The rapper, who’s made a slew of antisemitic comments in recent months, said he asked Trump to be his running mate. The rapper, who has been embroiled in an antisemitism scandal, ran an unsuccessful bid for president in 2020 as well.
An unnamed source told Axios that Trump “seemed very taken” with Fuentes and at one point turned to West and said, “I really like this guy. He gets me.”
But the source also said: “To be honest, I don’t believe the president knew who the hell [Fuentes] was.”
On Thursday, West posted a video in which he and his new campaign adviser, far-right activist Milo Yiannopoulos debriefed the Mar-a-Lago meeting. West can be heard saying that “Trump started basically screaming at the table telling me I was gonna lose.”
“I mean, has that ever worked for anyone in history? I’m like, ‘Wait, hold on Trump, you’re talking to Ye,’” the rapper continued, referring to himself in the third person.
West said Trump seemed more caught off guard by “the fact that I walked in with intelligence” — an apparent reference to Fuentes. “Trump is really impressed with Nick Fuentes,” West went on to tell Yiannopoulos, adding that Fuentes was a “loyalist” along with those who stormed the Capitol on January 6.
— ye (@kanyewest) November 25, 2022
“My question [to Trump] would be, ‘Why when you had the chance did you not free the January 6-ers?” West continued.
Separately on Thursday, Adidas announced that it was investigating additional claims against West after a report detailed alleged inappropriate behavior, just weeks after the German sportswear giant ended its partnership with the rapper.
US magazine Rolling Stone reported claims that the rapper played pornography to Adidas staff in meetings, discussed porn and showed an intimate photo of ex-wife Kim Kardashian in job interviews.
It said former members of the team involved in Yeezy — the product line designed with the rapper — had released a letter alleging Adidas executives were aware of the behavior, which went on for years but turned a blind eye.
“It is currently not clear whether the accusations made in an anonymous letter are true,” Adidas said in a statement.
“However, we take these allegations very seriously and have taken the decision to launch an independent investigation of the matter immediately to address the allegations.”
Adidas began a review of its relationship with West after he appeared at a Paris fashion show wearing a shirt emblazoned with “White Lives Matter,” a slogan created as a backlash to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Days later he was locked out of Twitter and Instagram over antisemitic threats, which he later blamed on the “Jewish media.” His account was reinstated and he was personally welcomed by Musk on the platform.
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