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How Republicans have reacted so far to Trump's dinner with white nationalist Nick Fuentes

Trump's dinner with white nationalist
Fallout from Trump's meeting with white nationalist Nick Fuentes and Kanye West 07:55

Some Republicans have condemned former President Donald Trump's recent dinner with white nationalist Nick Fuentes and rapper Kanye West, while other GOP lawmakers have remained silent.

After last Tuesday's dinner was reported in the media on Friday, Trump said that he didn't know who Fuentes was, nor that West would be bringing him. Fuentes is a leading figure on the far right who has spread antisemitic conspiracies, including denying the Holocaust. West has also come under fire for his recent antisemitic comments. 

Trump's vice president and potential 2024 rival has called on the former president to apologize. 

"Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an antisemite and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table," former Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview that aired Monday on NewsNation. "I think he should apologize for it." 

"I think the president displayed profoundly poor judgment in giving those individuals a seat at the table," he added. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested — without naming Trump — that any person who sits down with another individual who espouses antisemitic views will not be elected president.

"There is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy," McConnell said Tuesday at the start of a press conference. "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."

Trump announced earlier this month his third bid for the White House.

Former President Donald Trump applauds while speaking at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, on Nov. 15, 2022.  ALON SKUY/AFP via Getty Images

Other Republicans didn't go as far as to call for an apology.

"[I] don't want to give oxygen to people like that," said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close Trump ally. "And, you know, when you hang out with people like that it's not good."

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a former Trump ally and another potential 2024 presidential candidate, told The New York Times that the dinner was "just another example of an awful lack of judgment" from Trump. 

Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, also a Trump ally, said Trump should "make better choices, obviously." 

"We all make mistakes," Tuberville said. 

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said he "wouldn't want to have dinner with either" Fuentes or West. 

Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa called it "ridiculous." 

"I think it's disgusting to invite people like that to meet with a former president of the United States," said Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, one of Trump's biggest foes in the Republican party. "It's been clear that there's no bottom to the degree to which President Trump will degrade himself and the nation." 

Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who voted to convict Trump at his second impeachment trial, tried to distance the Republican Party from the former president. 

"President Trump hosting racist antisemites for dinner encourages other racist antisemites," Cassidy tweeted Monday. "These attitudes are immoral and should not be entertained. This is not the Republican Party." 

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, another Trump ally on Capitol Hill, attempted to separate the GOP from Fuentes.

"I don't think anybody should be spending any time with Nick Fuentes. He has no place in this Republican Party," McCarthy told reporters Tuesday after a meeting at the White House with President Biden and other congressional leaders. "I say too, President Trump came out four times and condemned him and didn't know who he was."  

Trump has not publicly condemned Fuentes, but did say in a post on his social media platform, Truth Social, that he did not know him.

"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,'" he wrote. "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."

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a potential Trump rival in 2024, did not directly address the dinner, but tweeted after the news broke that "anti-semitism is a cancer." 

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is also considering a 2024 run, told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that the dinner is "very troubling" and "empowering" to extremists. 

Jack Turman and Alan He contributed reporting. 

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