We now finally (maybe?) have the full story on how Donald Trump wound up dining with white supremacist and antisemite Nick Fuentes at his Mar-a-Lago estate last week. On Tuesday, NBC News published the “inside story” of how “what was supposed to be a private dinner ended up being a political nightmare.” It’s full of colorful details, including former Trump campaign adviser Karen Giorno realizing who Fuentes was only during their three-hour drive from the airport-a-Lago, Trump attacking Kim Kardashian for no apparent reason, and concerns that the denim-clad racists weren’t adhering to the club’s dress code. But the wildest part is the assertion that an unsuspecting Trump fell victim to an elaborate setup.
Two days before Thanksgiving, Trump “was planning to have a private, uneventful dinner with an old friend: Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West,” the piece begins. “But Trump may have been walking into a trap in Mar-a-Lago’s gilded halls.”
How exactly was this dinner Trump arranged with Ye, whom he’d been chatting with throughout his antisemitic meltdown, a trap? Well, one anonymous Trump adviser suggested Ye “punked” him by showing up with Fuentes:
One longtime Trump adviser, who didn’t want to go on the record criticizing his preferred candidate, said it was clear that Fuentes’ presence was part of a headline-grabbing setup.
“The master troll got trolled,” the adviser said. “Kanye punked Trump.”
Milo Yiannopoulos, the disgraced far-right activist who is now Ye’s political adviser, told NBC News he was “the architect” of this plot. He offered some not entirely coherent motivations, saying he was trying to teach Trump a lesson about relying on his handlers rather than “the people who love him the most, the people who put him in office.” But also he just wanted to humiliate Trump:
And, Yiannopoulos said, he arranged the dinner “just to make Trump’s life miserable” because news of the dinner would leak and Trump would mishandle it.
It seems Trump missed the lesson and caught only the “make Trump’s life miserable” bit:
Trump fumed afterward that Ye had betrayed him by ambushing him.
“He tried to f— me. He’s crazy. He can’t beat me,” Trump said, according to one confidant, who then relayed the conversation to NBC News on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
“Trump was totally blindsided,” the source said of Fuentes’ presence. “It was a setup.”
Trump may be furious, but Yiannopoulos’s explanation actually backs up his original claims that he did not know Fuentes would be there — and it’s still a terrible excuse. Regardless of how much Trump knew about Fuentes’s white-supremacist views, he was aware he’d be dining with at least one well-known antisemite: Ye. Trump was reportedly warned not to meet with the rapper, but he thought it would be “fun”:
Some in Trump’s orbit had cautioned him not to have dinner with Ye, under fire for antisemitism, in the first place, according to two sources who had been briefed on an internal damage assessment the campaign performed after the controversy erupted.
But Trump is known for refusing to heed cautious counsel, guardrails and gatekeepers. So he went ahead with the dinner alone, telling confidants that he thought Ye needed his counsel. One confidant told NBC that Trump acknowledged he wanted the rapper to be seen because “it would be fun for the members” of Mar-a-Lago.
To be sure, the presence of Fuentes, who was at both the Capitol riot and the deadly 2017 white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, made the dinner a far bigger scandal. But Trump dining with Ye, even alone, is pretty appalling both politically and personally. In addition to the growing pile of evidence that Ye himself is seriously antisemitic — from his tweet about going “death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE” to reports that he has a long history of praising Adolf Hitler — he’s attacked Jewish members of Trump’s own family by name. As People noted, Ye went after Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Kushner’s brother on Instagram in October:
Much of the comments centered on a since-deleted Instagram post in which West wrote, “F— JOSH KUSHNER,” slamming the younger Kushner for investing in his ex-wife Kim Kardashian’s underwear line SKIMS (an investment that was made by Kushner’s company Thrive Capital before the two announced their public breakup).
West added a message about Josh’s older brother, writing: “JARED WAS HOLDING TRUMP BACK.”
Ye criticized the Kushners further in his infamous interview with Tucker Carlson, and he said of Jared’s work on a Middle East peace deal, “I just think it was to make money … I just think that that’s what they’re about is making money.”
Ye’s appearance on journalist and YouTuber Tim Pool’s podcast Tuesday made it quite clear his beef with the Kushners isn’t strictly personal. In a rant suggesting that Jews control the media, banks, and politics, he pointed to two Jewish presidential advisers, saying, “We can see that Rahm Emanuel was right next to Obama and then Jared Kushner was right next to Trump.”
But maybe we should give Trump the benefit of the doubt. He does have a long history of being duped into enabling white supremacists, and it seems he was so dazzled by Ye’s kind words that he missed key parts of his Fox News interview. In October, radio host Larry O’Connor asked Trump to comment on the “really offensive things” Ye had said about his “own son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and about Jewish people, Jewish Americans writ large.” Trump responded, “Well, I haven’t really seen the statements he’s made. I did watch the Tucker Carlson interview, and he was really nice to me.”
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