Former president Donald Trump is continuing to face backlash after hosting and dining with notorious white supremacist and avowed antisemite Nick Fuentes at his Mar-a-Lago estate on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Trump, who recently announced his 2024 presidential campaign, has since both acknowledged and attempted to downplay the dinner and distance himself from Fuentes, insisting he did not know who he was.
On the night of Tuesday, November 22, Trump hosted Kanye West and three others, including Fuentes, for dinner at his Mar-a-Lago resort and estate in Florida. West, who has announced that he will also run for president in 2024, has repeatedly made antisemitic comments in recent months, causing numerous businesses to sever billions of dollars’ worth of ties with the rapper. Trump dined with him anyway.
West later released a video “debrief” of the dinner on his Twitter account, which was recently unbanned by the social-media company under Elon Musk’s leadership. In the video, West speaks with disgraced far-right activist Milo Yiannopoulos (who the rapper reportedly wants to run his presidential campaign) and claims that Trump was “really impressed” with Fuentes. “Unlike so many of the lawyers and so many people that he was left with on his 2020 campaign, he’s actually a loyalist,” West said of Fuentes. NBC News reports that Fuentes is advising West on his campaign.
Fuentes, 24, is one of the most prominent young white supremacists in the U.S. He regularly expresses and promotes racist and antisemitic views and conspiracy theories, including denial of the Holocaust, and is the organizer of an annual white-supremacist gathering called the America First Political Action Conference. He is also a hard-core Trump supporter who is active on Trump’s Truth Social platform, was involved in the “Stop the Steal” movement following Trump’s 2020 election defeat and was present at the January 6 Capitol riot. In 2017, Fuentes attended the deadly Unite the Right white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, whose participants Trump infamously praised as “very fine people” afterward.
In multiple statements responding to the controversy, Trump has insisted he did not know who Fuentes was — and in none of the responses has he condemned Fuentes’s or West’s views.
“Kanye West very much wanted to visit Mar-a-Lago. Our dinner meeting was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about,” Trump said in a statement on Friday. He later posted on Truth Social that West:
unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about. We had dinner on Tuesday evening with many members present on the back patio. The dinner was quick and uneventful. They then left for the airport.
In another message posted to Truth Social later Friday, Trump added that:
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.” 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.
Then on Saturday night, Trump posted about the dinner again on Truth Social, acknowledging he did know one of the three people, but otherwise mainly focusing on West — who he referred to as a “a seriously troubled man, who just happens to be black” — while also blaming the media:
Unnamed Trumpworld sources who have spoken with Axios, Politico, and the New York Times all claimed that Trump really didn’t seem to know who Fuentes was during the meeting. Giorno, speaking with the Washington Post, agreed. She said that she didn’t hear any antisemitic or racist comments during the dinner, and insisted that she also didn’t know who Fuentes was. (Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green, after delivering a speech at the America First Political Action Conference in February, also claimed that she did not know who Fuentes was at the time.)
Here’s how Giorno recounted Trump’s conversation with Fuentes, per the Post:
Trump was quickly impressed by Fuentes and peppered him with questions, Giorno said. “He was impressed with Nick and his knowledge of Trump World,” she said. “Nick knew people and figures and speeches and rallies and what surrounded the Trump culture, particularly when it came to the base.”
And Trump wanted to talk about his campaign, including those who would run against him in 2024, his announcement speech and how he was going to win. Fuentes told Trump that he preferred when he was fiery and off-the-cuff, particularly as it related to his announcement speech, Giorno said. Trump repeatedly talked about his base and young voters, Giorno said. Another person familiar with the dinner said Trump liked Fuentes because he flattered him and encouraged his most pugilistic instincts.
“Did the president and Nick have a casual conversation about his past presidency, the announcement and style, and polling and prospects of other people coming into the primary, and what young people thought about him? Yeah they did,” Giorno said.
A “source familiar with the dinner conversation” told Axios that at one point during the dinner, Trump turned to West and said of Fuentes, “I really like this guy. He gets me.”
This post has been updated.