WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — Republican leaders are criticizing former President Donald Trump after his dinner with a Holocaust-denying white nationalist and a rapper who has spewed antisemitic conspiracies.
This comes after Trump hosted Nick Fuentes, an outspoken white nationalist and antisemitic organizer, and Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West. Ye recently provoked controversy for making numerous antisemitic statements and lost lucrative partnerships with Adidas and other corporate brands because of them.
On Tuesday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, “There is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy,” 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.”
McConnell’s comments represented some of his most direct public criticism of Trump since excoriating him on the Senate floor at the end of his second impeachment trial for inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
Asked if he would support Trump if he wins the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, McConnell emphasized: “There is simply no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy and that would apply to all of the leaders in the party who will be seeking offices.”
“The president can have meetings with who he wants,” added House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, “but I don’t think anyone should have a meeting with Nick Fuentes, and his views are nowhere within the Republican Party and within this country itself.”
The two leaders piled on as former Vice President Mike Pence called for an apology from Trump in an interview with NewsNation’s Leland Vittert on Monday.
“President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an antisemite and a Holocaust denier, a seat at the table and I think he should apologize for it,” Pence said.
So far, Trump has refused to condemn the views of either visitor, despite growing condemnation from his party.
Trump has repeatedly said he did not know until after the fact that he had had dinner with Fuentes. Fuentes arrived by car with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, and was waved into the club by security, even though only Ye had been on the security list, according to one of the people present and others briefed on the events. (Fuentes apparently did not show his ID and the car’s driver, a frequent guest at the club, got in using a credit card after misplacing her license.)
In an acknowledgment of the severity of the backlash and an effort to prevent a repeat, Trump’s campaign is putting new protocols in place to ensure that those who meet with him are approved and fully vetted, according to people familiar with the plans who requested anonymity to share internal strategy. The changes will include expediting a system, borrowed from Trump’s White House, in which a senior campaign official will be present with him at all times, according to one of the people.
Trump, who generally views backtracking as a sign of weakness, has a long history of failing to condemn bigotry and hate speech in which some have attributed to concerns about alienating parts of his base who are open to such views.