Pence says Trump ‘mistaken’ for dinner with Holocaust denier



CNN

Former Vice President Mike Pence said Monday that Donald Trump was “wrong” to recently dine with white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and rapper Kanye West at his Florida resort and that the former president should apologize.

“President Trump was wrong to give a seat at the table to a white nationalist, anti-Semitic and Holocaust denier, and I think he should apologize for that. And he should denounce these individuals and their hateful rhetoric without any elaboration,” Pence told NewsNation in a clip released Monday night.

Trump “demonstrated extremely poor judgment in giving these people a seat at the table,” he said, adding that he did not believe Trump was “a racist or a bigot.”

Trump faced a swift backlash from members of his own party after hosting Fuentes and West at his Mar-a-Lago estate last Tuesday. The meeting came a week after the former president announced he would seek the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2024.

Pence, who has also been seen as a potential Republican nominee in 2024, has largely spoken favorably of Trump’s policies and his time in his administration, but he has broken with the former president over his actions in relation to the January 6 attack in the US 2021 Capitol. He told CNN at a town hall in November that Trump’s words and tweet on Jan. 6 “were reckless” and that he believed there would be a “better choice” than Trump in 2024.

See Pence’s response when asked if he would support Trump in 2024

Pence’s comments join a chorus of intense criticism aimed at Trump in recent days.

Jason Greenblatt, who was the White House’s Middle East envoy in the Trump administration, wrote in a CNN op-ed published Monday that the dinner “shouldn’t have happened. Period.”

“I hope President Trump will condemn Fuentes, West and their ilk for what they are – haters of Jews and haters of the foundations of the United States of America.” People like Fuentes are dangerous to the United States. The President Trump I know would recognize this and issue this condemnation,” wrote Greenblatt, who is Jewish. “Regardless of how or why the dinner happened, haters like Fuentes and West should not be given a platform or a seat at the table by anyone.”

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, reacting to news of the meeting, told CNN on Monday that Fuentes “is a purveyor and distributor of evil, poison,” adding of West, “I don’t know him, but the guy has some issues.”

Asked if Trump should impeach Fuentes, Rubio said, “I hope he does. Because I know he’s not anti-Semitic. I can tell you for sure that Trump is not, but this guy (Fuentes) is evil. And this guy is just a nasty, disgusting person. He’s an ass clown.

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah strongly condemned Trump for hosting the group.

“You know, I think it’s disgusting to invite people like that to a meeting with a former president of the United States. I think there is — clearly there is no bottom to the extent to which President Trump will degrade himself and the nation,” Romney said.

Asked if Trump should apologize, Romney said: “He doesn’t. He never sees anything wrong with anything he does, so it’s typical of his approach that he either says it was a joke or says he didn’t know what was going on. But that doesn’t fly, obviously. It’s something that humbles him to openly do what he did. And this is something that the state also reduces. It is very unfortunate.”

On Sunday, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson called the meeting with the two figures “very troubling” and “inspiring” to extremism.

former President Donald Trump hosting White nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and rapper Kanye West at his Mar-a-Lago estate, demonstrating his continued willingness to associate with figures who have well-publicized antisemitic views as he embarks on another White House run.” data-duration=”02:21″ data-source=”CNN” data-affiliate-source-link=”https://www.cnn.com” data-fave-thumbnails=”{“big”:{“uri”:”https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/221127094909-donald-trump-asa-hutchinson-split.jpg?c=16×9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill”},”small”:{“uri”:”https://media.cnn.com/api/v1/images/stellar/prod/221127094909-donald-trump-asa-hutchinson-split.jpg?c=16×9&q=h_540,w_960,c_fill”}}” data-vr-video=”” data-show-name=”State of the Union” data-show-url=”https://www.cnn.com/shows/state-of-the-union” data-details=””>

Donald Trump Asa Hutchinson Split

GOP governor calls Trump’s dinner with Holocaust denier Kanye West ‘very disturbing’

“No, I don’t think it’s a good idea for a leader who sets an example for the country or the party to meet with (an) outspoken racist or anti-Semite. So, that’s very disturbing and it shouldn’t be happening, and we need to avoid that kind of empowerment of the extremes,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.” “You want to disempower them, not empower them. Stay away from him.

Hutchinson, who is term-limited and leaves office in January, is currently considering a run for the White House in 2024.

CNN previously reported that Trump was engaged with Fuentes and found him “very interesting” during the dinner, according to a source familiar with him, particularly Fuentes’ ability to crunch statistics and data and his familiarity with Trump’s world . At one point during the dinner, Trump said he “likes” Fuentes.

The Anti-Defamation League has labeled Fuentes a white supremacist, and he has been banned from most major social media platforms for his white nationalist rhetoric. Fuentes was on the grounds of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and promoted Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of election fraud in 2020. West has been engulfed in his own controversy after repeating anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and making other offensive claims last month.

Trump acknowledged the dinner in a post on Truth Social on Friday, writing: “Last week, Kanye West invited me to dinner at Mar-a-Lago. Shortly afterwards he unexpectedly appeared with three friends of his whom I knew nothing about. We had dinner on Tuesday evening with many members present in the backyard. Dinner was quick and uneventful. Then they left for the airport.

Later on Friday, Trump reiterated that he “didn’t know” Fuentes and offered West business as well as political advice.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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