Last week, former president and 2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump met with white supremacist and holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, along with rapper Ye (formerly known as Kanye West), whose antisemitic comments have recently made headlines.
The meeting took place at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence on Tuesday and was widely reported on over Thanksgiving weekend.
Ye has posted several antisemitic comments on social media in recent months; in one post, he accused Jewish people in the media of having a shared agenda against him, drawing upon decades-old antisemitic conspiracy theories; in another, he accused Jewish people of creating “cancel culture.”
Fuentes has pushed false antisemitic conspiracy theories for several years and has repeatedly denied that there was a Jewish Holocaust during World War II. Fuentes, who is popular among far right activists with white nationalist viewpoints, also took part in the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which right-wing attendees chanted anti-Jewish slogans and engaged in violence against counterprotesters. The rally resulted in the murder of anti-racist activist Heather Heyer.
(Three days after Heyer’s murder, Trump defended the far right rallygoers in Charlottesville, claiming there were “very fine people on both sides.”)
After news of the meeting was made public, the former president claimed in a Truth Social post on Saturday that the gathering was a response to Ye’s request for “advice concerning some of his difficulties.”
“We also discussed, to a lesser extent, politics, where I told him he should definitely not run for President,” Trump said, adding that the conversation was “great” and that Ye “expressed no anti-Semitism.”
“Also, I didn’t know Nick Fuentes,” Trump said. This is a questionable claim, as Fuentes has previously organized events attended by right-wing lawmaker Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia).
On Sunday, Trump called Ye a “seriously troubled man” and claimed that the rapper had brought unexpected guests to Mar-a-Lago, including Fuentes. Trump also faulted the “fake news” media for reporting on the meeting.
Although many of Trump’s closest allies have encouraged him to denounce the meeting, the former president has refused to condemn Fuentes’s white supremacist views.
“Even with his ignorance of Fuentes taken at face value, the statements signal Trump will give extraordinary deference to the most fringe elements of his base,” wrote The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell.
The meeting was the subject of widespread criticism on social media.
“That Trump promoted [Fuentes] by privately dining with him and Kanye West and then publicizing their time together reminds the world who Trump really is and what his return to power would portend,” said Harvard Law professor emeritus Laurence Tribe.
Trump “always tries to claim he does not associate with white nationalists, that he does not know them,” former Obama administration aide Alaina Beverly said on MSNBC. “But he’ll wink and nod in the same breath and say ‘Proud boys, stand back and stand by.”
In October, Trump attacked Jews in the U.S. for not showing greater support for far right leaders within the Israeli government — drawing upon the antisemitic trope that American Jews are secretly loyal to Israel rather than the U.S., and perpetuating the fallacy that Zionism is essential to Jewish identity.
“Jewish people who live in the United States don’t love Israel enough,” Trump said on Truth Social last month, adding that they better “get their act together…before it is too late.”