Former U.S. President Donald Trump's dinner last week with rapper Kanye West and white supremacist Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes has prompted condemnation from conservatives, Orthodox Jewish commentator Ben Shapiro and the Anti-Defamation League.
In a statement published Friday by Breitbart, Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign claimed that the meeting at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida came at West's request and that Trump didn't know Fuentes would be present.
“Our dinner meeting was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest [Fuentes] whom I had never met and knew nothing about,” the statement contends.
The far-left legal advocacy group, Southern Poverty Law Center, notes that Fuentes, the host of the “America First” podcast and founder of America First Foundation, sees the country’s “white demographic core” as a crucial part of its identity.
Fuentes has even compared himself to Adolf Hitler during a February livestream. He has also frequently peddled anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish people controlling the media, stating that “Christian Republican voters get screwed over” because “the GOP is run by Jews, atheists, and homosexuals.”
In response to Trump’s team claiming ignorance about Fuentes’ identity, Daily Wire founder and conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro noted that the controversy surrounding West's anti-Semitic remarks was public knowledge before the dinner.
“A good way not to accidentally dine with a vile racist and anti-Semite you don't know is not to dine with a vile racist and anti-Semite you do know,” Shapiro tweeted Sunday.
The dinner at Mar-a-Lago comes weeks after several brands, including JP Morgan Chase and Adidas, dropped ties with the famed rapper after he made anti-Semitic remarks in interviews and social media.
Last month, West shared a screenshot of a text with rapper Diddy on Instagram, saying he would use him "as an example to show the Jewish people that told you to call me that no one can threaten or influence me." He also promised to go “death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE” in a now-deleted Oct. 8 tweet.
The artist later claimed in an Oct. 19 interview with NewsNation's Chris Cuomo that the "underground Jewish mafia" is targeting him.
The dinner meeting drew condemnation from some Republican politicians, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., one of seven Senate Republicans who voted to convict Trump of inciting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
"President Trump hosting racist antisemites for dinner encourages other racist antisemites," Cassidy wrote in a Monday tweet. "These attitudes are immoral and should not be entertained. This is not the Republican Party."
Christie, one of Trump's challengers in the 2016 Republican presidential primary election, told The New York Times that the dinner meeting is another example of Trump's "awful lack of judgment." Christie contends that Trump's history of "poor judgment" makes him "an untenable general election candidate for the Republican Party in 2024."
Hutchinson, who is thought to be considering a 2024 run, told CNN Sunday that Trump failed to condemn the "extreme side" of the Republican Party.
“So what Donald Trump did and his failure to condemn it is really the minority of the party. It’s an extreme side of it," Hutchinson said. "And that’s what you have got to distance yourself from. And he failed to do that."
Hutchinson doesn't believe the dinner meeting was an "accidental meeting."
“Well, I mean, you could have accidental meetings. Things like that happen. This was not an accidental meeting. It was a set-up dinner with Kanye," he said.
“But you certainly have every occasion that the question of white supremacy or neo-Nazism, or denying the Holocaust comes up. You have got to be absolutely clear in your communication that this is not acceptable dogma, it’s not acceptable conversation, it’s not acceptable history, and you have to disavow it. It is as simple as that."
Commenting on the dinner in a Saturday social media post, Trump called West a "seriously troubled man" who has been "decimated in his business and virtually everything else ... who has always been good to me." Trump claimed he was trying to help West "by allowing his request for a meeting at Mar-a-Lago, alone, so that I can give him very much needed ‘advice.'"
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group, condemned the meeting in a Sunday tweet.
“If anyone still had any doubts about Donald Trump's embrace of bigotry and division, it's certainly clarifying to see him spend time openly and unapologetically with notorious antisemites Nick Fuentes and Kanye West,” Greenblatt wrote. “Awful, appalling and yet entirely in character.”
As the ADL reported last month, West’s comments "have been embraced by antisemitic extremist groups." Additionally, extremist Black Hebrew Israelite sects also praised West for helping "spread their teachings to more people." Groups like White Lives Matter and the Goyim Defense League also "leveraged Ye’s comments to further their own agendas and inspire new propaganda campaigns."
Responding to Shapiro on Sunday, West tweeted: “Shapiro starvingly accepts $100,000 from one of my opponents then tries to trash me.” The artist appeared to be referencing a Media Matters report showing that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC paid over $110,000 to The Daily Wire for fundraising expenses and list rental costs.
Shapiro responded in a Monday tweet, telling the rapper, “Sadly, you’ve trashed yourself. You didn’t need my help. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t the Jews. It was just you.”
In a now-deleted tweet, West wrote that despite their disagreements, the rapper prays that Shapiro will join him in “saving our country.”
As The Christian Post reported, Shapiro previously criticized West for promoting conspiracies about Jewish people, likening the artist’s comments to Nazi propaganda. When West dominated headlines in October with his anti-Semitic remarks in interviews and social media, Shapiro stated that West spouted "Der Stürmer-type anti-Semitism," referring to the Nazi-era newspaper, adding that "nobody should be defending that."
"It's just pure unbridled anti-Semitism," he said. "There's just no other way to put it, there's no other way to read it. End of story."
Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.