POLITICS & ELECTIONS

Ye announces 2024 presidential bid, after dinner with former President Donald Trump

Nov 26, 2022, 3:11 PM

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: (L to R) President-elect Donald Trump and Kanye West stand together in ...

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: (L to R) President-elect Donald Trump and Kanye West stand together in the lobby at Trump Tower, December 13, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Former President Donald Trump hosted White nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and rapper Kanye West at his Mar-a-Lago estate this week, demonstrating his continued willingness to associate with figures who have well-publicized antisemitic views as he embarks on another White House run.

West, who has legally changed his name to Ye, posted a video Thursday on Twitter in which he claimed that Trump “is really impressed with Fuentes,” who has repeatedly made antisemitic and racist comments as chronicled by the Anti-Defamation League.

Fuentes, West said in the Twitter video, “is actually a loyalist” to Trump, unlike others who he said abandoned the former president after the 2020 election.

In a text message conversation tweeted by West on Thursday, he and Fuentes said they both met with the former president. A source familiar with the dinner confirmed to CNN that Trump on Tuesday met with Fuentes and West, who became engulfed in controversy after repeating antisemitic conspiracy theories and making other offensive claims during an appearance on a podcast in October.

The source said that Fuentes was a guest of West, who attended the dinner along with Karen Giorno, who ran Trump’s 2016 Florida campaign, and another unidentified man. The group feasted on a Thanksgiving dinner for roughly two hours at Trump’s outdoor patio table.

Trump was engaged with Fuentes and found him “very interesting,” the source said, particularly Fuentes’ abilities to rattle off statistics and data, and his familiarity with Trump world.

During the dinner, Fuentes told Trump that he was familiar with “Trump’s base,” which preferred Trump being natural and himself, speaking off the cuff and ad-libbing. Trump said that his advisers don’t like that, and want him reading from the teleprompter.

At one point during the dinner, Trump declared that he “liked” Fuentes.

According to the source, the dinner grew tense at various times, including after West asked Trump to join his 2024 campaign ticket for president as vice president, which Trump “laughed off.” The source could not pinpoint the exact moment the former president’s mood shifted.

Trump acknowledged the dinner in a post on Truth Social Friday, stating: “This past week, Kanye West called me to have dinner at Mar-a-Lago. Shortly thereafter, he 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.”

Trump repeated later Friday that he “didn’t know” Fuentes and had offered West business as well as political advice.

“I told him he should definitely not run for President, ‘any voters you may have should vote for TRUMP,'” the former president wrote on Truth Social. “Anyway, we got along great, he expressed no anti-Semitism, & I appreciated all of the nice things he said about me on ‘Tucker Carlson.'”

The White House on Friday condemned Fuentes’ appearance at Mar-a-Lago.

“Bigotry, hate, and antisemitism have absolutely no place in America – including at Mar-A-Lago. Holocaust denial is repugnant and dangerous, and it must be forcefully condemned,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement to CNN.

David Friedman, Trump’s former Ambassador to Israel, also condemned the former president’s association with West and Fuentes.

“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. I urge you to throw those bums out, disavow them and relegate them to the dustbin of history where they belong,” he said in a pair of tweets Friday afternoon. “Antisemites deserve no quarter among American leaders, right or left.”

West’s recent antisemitic remarks caused companies that he was affiliated with — including Adidas and Balenciaga — to sever their relationships with him. He has made numerous inflammatory statements over the years, including assertions that slavery was a “choice” and “racism is a dated concept.”

The Anti-Defamation League has identified Fuentes as a White supremacist and he has been banned from most major social media platforms for his White nationalist rhetoric. Fuentes was present on the grounds of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and he has promoted Trump’s unsubstantiated claims about fraud in the 2020 election. The House select committee investigating the events of January 6 issued a subpoena to Fuentes in January.

West tweeted late Tuesday night that he had kept Trump waiting during his first visit to Mar-a-Lago due to rain and traffic. And Right Wing Watch, a project of the left-leaning group People for the American Way, posted Tuesday footage of West and Fuentes walking through the Miami airport together. That footage was included in the video West posted on Twitter.

This story has been updated with new reporting about the dinner.


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Ye announces 2024 presidential bid, after dinner with former President Donald Trump