Republicans blasted former President Trump over his dinner with embattled rapper Kanye West and antisemite and White nationalist Nick Fuentes.
Trump had dinner with Fuentes, a Holocaust denier, last week alongside West, sparking backlash from several GOP lawmakers and organizations for meeting with the young antisemite that claims to be a conservative activist.
Republicans have by and large steered away from directly criticizing the former president’s dinner with Fuentes, who is largely viewed as a political pariah outside of the Trump wing of the GOP, but several party members have spoken out on the dinner.
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“I am appalled,” Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., told reporters on Sunday.
Bacon is the Republican co-chair of the Caucus for the Advancement of Torah Values with Democrat Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar.
Louisiana Republican Senator Bill Cassidy tweeted that Trump “hosting racist antisemites for dinner encourages other racist antisemites.”
“These attitudes are immoral and should not be entertained,” Cassidy wrote. “This is not the Republican Party.”
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., who is expected to take the mantle of the House Oversight Committee chairman come January, criticized the meeting in a Sunday Meet the Press interview.
“He certainly needs better judgment in who he dines with,” Comer said. “I know he’s issued a statement and said he didn’t know who those people were, but, at any rate, my focus is going to be investigating the current administration as the next chairman of the House Oversight Committee and try to get a handle on the massive amount of waste, fraud, and abuse in our federal government.”
When pressed on if he would condemn the dinner, Comer said he would not take a meeting with either Fuentes or West but stopped short of a condemnation of the dinner.
Texas GOP Rep. Chip Roy’s office pointed to the congressman’s pointed February comments towards Fuentes after two of his colleagues spoke at an event the young purported antisemite hosted.
“Nick Fuentes is an a–hole.” Roy said. The congressman added he was “frustrated by colleagues who have chosen to associate in this situation.”
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie blasted Trump over the meeting, as did Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who said it was “very troubling” the former president had dinner with “avowed racist.”
“You could have accidental meetings. Things like that happen. This was not an accidental meeting. It was a set-up dinner with Kanye,” Hutchinson said. “You have to disavow it. It is as simple as that.”
“This is just another example of an awful lack of judgment from Donald Trump,” Christie said.
Antisemitism watchdogs and other Jewish groups have also weighed in on the controversy with Liora Rez, executive director of grassroots watchdog StopAntiSemitism, took aim at the Republican silence on the dinner.
“Ignoring antisemitism when convenient is abhorrent; it must always be exposed, condemned, and prevented regardless of political allegiance,” Rez said.
“The deafening silence emanating from GOP leaders regarding former President Trump’s meeting with two antisemites, Nick Fuentes and Kanye West, is frightening,” she continued. “Why are leading Republicans silent now, when they previously loudly condemned antisemitic rhetoric yielded by Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib?”
Rez said that “Kanye West is currently one of three finalists in StopAntisemitism’s ‘Antisemite of the Year’ vote” and that thousands “of Americans have already cast their vote, and the dishonorable winner will be announced on December 11th.”
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“We are determined to hold these antisemites accountable and to prompt consequences for their dangerous behavior,” Rez added. “Politicians on both sides of the aisle should do the same without hesitation.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) condemned both Fuentes and West in a statement.
“We strongly condemn the virulent antisemitism of Kanye West and Nick Fuentes and call on all political leaders to reject their messages of hate and refuse to meet with them,” the RJC said.
Republican National Committee (RNC) chairwoman Ronna McDaniel condemned antisemitism and “bigotry” in a statement but also stopped short of condemning the dinner.
“As I had repeatedly said, white supremacy, neo-Nazism, hate speech and bigotry are disgusting and do not have a home in the Republican Party,” McDaniel said.
Fuentes has a robust history of White supremacist and antisemitic comments, often claiming to be using irony in an attempt to whitewash his rhetoric and shield himself from criticism.
However, Fuentes admitted in a video that irony is “so important” in his communications as it gives “a lot of cover and plausible deniability for [his] views.”
According to the Canary Mission, an antisemitism watchdog, Fuentes “has celebrated political violence, spread racism and promoted White Nationalist ideology” and has “also spread coronavirus antisemitism, pushed general antisemitism, mocked the Holocaust and promoted anti-Israel conspiracy theories.”
Additionally, Fuentes is the founder of the far-right Groyper Army — which was deemed a White supremacist group by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) — and has been banned on YouTube and other social media platforms.
A livestream clip of Fuentes appearing to downplay or deny the extent of the Holocaust has circulated online.
The clip shows Fuentes answering a viewer question comparing the systematic murder of 6 million Jewish people in the Holocaust to baking cookies, while saying that 6 million “batches of cookies” could not have been “baked” in five years..
“The math doesn’t quite seem to add up there, I don’t think you’d result in 6 million,” Fuentes continued.
The podcast host added he didn’t “buy” the “6 million cookies” number before claiming he is an “irony bro” and the tirade was “all irony.” Fuentes later claimed the “cookies” comments were a “lampoon” to The Washington Post.
Fuentes also defended his cookie comments as a “funny joke” in a November video and refused to “disavow” his words.
The podcast host also tweeted in October of last year that his “favorite comedy routine” is when he is grilled about his belief on “whether or not” 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust and if he felt remorse about it “and then get red in the face and scream at me that I should be ashamed for being a mean person.”
Even in the face of his antisemitic rhetoric and Holocaust denial, some Republicans have opted to actually fundraise with Fuentes.
Arizona GOP Rep. Paul Gosar faced backlash after scheduling a fundraiser with Fuentes. Gosar and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., both faced condemnation in February for speaking at the America First Political Action Conference founded by Fuentes. Greene downplayed speaking at the conference, saying she didn’t know who the organizers were.
“It wasn’t an alignment. It was to talk about getting everyone together to save our country,”
After the backlash of the dinner, Trump deemed West, who changed his name to Ye, a “seriously troubled man.”
“So I help a seriously troubled man, who just happens to be black, Ye (Kanye West), who has been decimated in his business and virtually everything else, and who has always been good to me, by allowing his request for a meeting at Mar-a-Lago, alone, so that I can give him very much needed ‘advice’,” Trump wrote in a message posted Saturday to his Truth Social account. “He shows up with 3 people, two of which I didn’t know, the other a political person who I haven’t seen in years. I told him don’t run for office, a total waste of time, can’t win. Fake News went CRAZY!”
Several prominent Jewish leaders, including David Friedman, who served as Trump’s U.S. Ambassador to Israel from 2017-2021, have been critical of the former president for the meeting hosted at his Palm Beach, Florida estate.”
“To my friend Donald Trump, you are better than this. Even a social visit from an antisemite like Kanye West and human scum like Nick Fuentes is unacceptable,” Friedman said on Twitter. “I urge you to throw those bums out, disavow them and relegate them to the dustbin of history where they belong.”
Fox News Digital’s Danielle Wallace contributed reporting.