Speed Reads

Tight lips

Handful of Republicans criticize Trump's dinner with Holocaust-denying white supremacist

Republican lawmakers "have largely remained silent" after former President Donald Trump hosted Kanye "Ye" West and Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust denier and white supremacist, for dinner at Mar-a-Lago last week, Axios reported Sunday. "Spokespeople for nearly two dozen House and Senate Republicans — including party leaders, co-chairs of caucuses and task forces focused on Judaism or antisemitism, and sponsors of legislation to combat antisemitic hate crimes — did not respond to requests for comment," reviving "a tactic they frequently relied on during his presidency."

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), the Republican co-chair of the bipartisan Caucus for the Advancement of Torah Values, said he is "appalled" at Trump's dinner party, and Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) told NBC's Meet the Press that Trump "needs better judgment in who he dines with." Outgoing Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), frequent Trump critics, also condemned his meeting with Fuentes — and the failure of GOP leadership to do the same.

Outgoing Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) told CNN on Sunday he hopes "someday we won't have to be responding to what former President Trump has said or done," but "in this instance it's important to respond," and Trump meeting with and empowering an "avowed" antisemite and white supremacist is "very troubling and it shouldn't happen."

Republican Jewish groups and individuals, notably Trump's former ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, criticized the dinner with Ye and Fuentes, and former Gov. Chris Christie (R), like Hutchinson a potential 2024 GOP presidential primary rival to Trump, called it "another example of an awful lack of judgment" that makes Trump an "untenable" presidential candidate.

Trump said several times since West revealed their dinner with Fuentes and two others that he "had never met and knew nothing about" about one of his dinner guests, presumably meaning Fuentes. He has also insisted to aides since Tuesday's dinner "that he did not know Fuentes, a Trump supporter active on Truth Social," though "some in his circle said they were skeptical," The Washington Post reports. Privately, advisers described the dinner as "horrible" and "totally awful."

Ye brought Fuentes, 24, to Mar-a-Lago without informing Trump beforehand, but Ye and one of the other dinner guests, former Trump senior adviser Karen Giorno agreed that Trump was really impressed with Fuentes. The cordial dinner turned tense after Trump "started talking negatively" about Kim Kardashian, Ye's ex-wife, Giorno told the Post, and got really heated when Ye offered Trump a spot as his running mate in 2024.