House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was asked Tuesday about how he had yet to condemn former President Donald Trump for having dinner a week ago with Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist and Holocaust denier.
McCarthy said, “I don’t think anybody should spend time with Nick Fuentes. He has no place in this Republican Party. I think President Trump came out four times and condemned him and didn’t know who he was.”
A reporter replied: “Well, he just said he didn’t know who he was. He didn’t condemn him or his ideology.”
McCarthy then said, “Well, I condemn his ideology. It has no place in society. At all.”
But the reporter was right about Trump.
Facts first: McCarthy’s claim was false: Trump had not condemned Fuentes at the time McCarthy spoke. Trump had made at least four statements about the dinner, each time saying he had not known Fuentes, but none of those statements included a condemnation of Fuentes.
In another statement, published by Fox more than five hours after McCarthy made his comments Tuesday, Trump said Fuentes had not expressed his views at the dinner and that if Fuentes had, “it would not have been accepted. ” This was the closest Trump has come to condemning Fuentes.
Here’s what Trump actually said in his public statements about the dinner, which took place at his Mar-a-Lago Florida resort and residence last Tuesday.
Fuentes attended dinner with rapper Kanye West, who made anti-Semitic comments in the fall. When Axios reported on the dinner on Friday, Trump issued a statement saying, “Kanye West wanted very much to visit Mar-a-Lago. Our dinner meeting was meant to be just Kanye and me, but he arrived with a guest who I had never met and knew nothing about.” The statement said nothing negative about Fuentes or his views.
Trump also did not criticize Fuentes or his views in two Friday posts about the dinner on the social media platform Truth Social. Trump wrote, among other things, that West had “shown up unexpectedly with three of his friends that I knew nothing about”, that the dinner was “quick and uneventful”, that West “did not express anti-Semitism”, and that “I did not know Nick Fuentes .”
Trump repeated that story in a Saturday post, saying West was supposed to come alone for advice, but instead showed up “with 3 people, two of whom I didn’t know, the other a political person I haven’t seen in years . ” Again, Trump did not condemn Fuentes or his views.
On Tuesday night, more than five hours after McCarthy’s comments, Fox published an article in which Trump reiterated that he had not heard of Fuentes at the time of the dinner, adding: “I had no idea what his views were, and they were” t expressed at the table in our very quick dinner, otherwise it would not have been accepted.”
McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond Tuesday to CNN’s request for comment.
This article has been updated to add Trump’s Tuesday comments to Fox.