McConnell, McCarthy criticize Trump's dinner with white nationalist

The top two Republicans in Congress on Monday condemned Nick Fuentes days after former President Donald Trump hosted the white supremacist at a dinner with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, at Mar-a-Lago.

“There is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill. “And anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States.”

“I don't think anybody should be spending any time with Nick Fuentes,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said at the White House after a meeting that President Biden convened with congressional leaders. “He has no place in this Republican Party.”

Trump’s dinner with Fuentes and Ye drew widespread criticism, although many Republican lawmakers have been silent on the matter.

Former President Donald Trump, Ye, (formerly known as Kanye West) and Nick Fuentes. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Andrew Harnik/AP, Ashley Landis/AP, William Edwards/AFP via Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump, Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) and Nick Fuentes. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Andrew Harnik/AP, Ashley Landis/AP, William Edwards/AFP via Getty Images)

Amid the backlash, the former president claimed he had not known who Fuentes was, but notably did not condemn his racist and antisemitic beliefs. He also did not condemn the antisemitic comments Ye made in a series of interviews, as a result of which many platforms and businesses severed ties with the rapper.

On Tuesday, McCarthy, the leading contender to become House speaker after the GOP won a majority of seats in the chamber in the midterm elections, falsely claimed that Trump had condemned Fuentes.

“Trump came out four times and condemned him and didn’t know who he was,” McCarthy said.

When a reporter pointed out that Trump did not condemn Fuentes or his ideology, McCarthy said, “Well, I condemn his ideology. It has no place in society at all.”

“The president can have meetings with who he wants,” McCarthy said when asked to clarify his position on Trump’s dinner guests. “But I don’t think anybody should have a meeting with Nick Fuentes. And his views are nowhere within the Republican Party or within this country itself.”

Kevin McCarthy speaks to reporters outside the portico of the White House.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks to reporters at the White House on Tuesday. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Fuentes, a 24-year-old Holocaust denier who has also made hateful comments about Black people and other minorities, is a popular figure on the far-right fringe. He has been critical of McCarthy’s pursuit of the speakership.

“President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an antisemite, a Holocaust denier, a seat at the table,” former Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview with News Nation on Monday. “I think he should apologize for it and he should denounce those individuals and their hateful rhetoric.”

McCarthy was also asked about Trump's decision to meet with Ye after the rapper's antisemitic remarks earlier this month.

“I don’t think those are right comments,” McCarthy said. “And I don’t think you should associate with him as well.”

Trump, who recently announced his third campaign for president, defended himself in a series of posts on Truth Social, his social media network. He noted that Ye has praised him on Fox News.

“Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, was asking me for advice concerning some of his difficulties, in particular having to do with his business,” Trump wrote. “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.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer excoriated Trump for failing to denounce Fuentes's ideological views.

“He didn't know that this virulent antisemite, this vicious man, Fuentes, was coming to dinner. But now he knows he was at dinner, and he still hasn't denounced it,” Schumer said. “That is just an utter disgrace.”

Tom LoBianco contributed reporting to this story from Capitol Hill.

Cover thumbnail: Drew Angerer/Getty Images, Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images