Donald Trump reportedly “dined and conversed” with infamous white nationalist Nick Fuentes at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach on Tuesday.
Trump’s encounter with the openly racist Fuentes – who was in the company of disgraced rapper Kanye West, now known as Ye – came one week after the former US president declared his 2024 campaign.
The interaction has prompted concerns about Trump’s willingness to engage with far-right extremists.
News website Axios first reported on the trio’s confab emerged hours after Ye posted a video titled “Mar-a-Lago Debrief” to his Twitter account Thursday evening, which was recently restored following suspension for making antisemitic statements.
Ye – who has been dropped by brands such as Balenciaga and Gap over his bigoted comments – announced his own bid for president in this video missive. But in the video he then also claimed to describe meeting with Trump in the company of Fuentes.
“Trump is really impressed with Nick Fuentes and Nick Fuentes, unlike so many of the lawyers and so many people that he was left with on his 2020 campaign, he’s actually a loyalist,” Ye said.
Fuentes, who has espoused vehemently antisemitic, racist and misogynistic views, launched a white nationalist organization named America First Foundation.
He first received national attention in 2017 after claiming to have left Boston University over “threats” following his attendance at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Trump confirmed the meeting on his social media platform, Politico reported. “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.”
In a statement reported by Axios, Trump appeared to try distancing himself from Fuentes, saying: “Kanye West very much wanted to visit Mar-a-Lago. Our dinner meeting was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about.”
Trump has long been criticized for his embrace of far-right figureheads. He refused to condemn white supremacists and other far-right groups during the first 2020 presidential debate, instead telling the Proud Boys extremist group to “stand back and stand by”.
In 2017 Trump was widely condemned for saying they were “very fine people on both sides” after clashes at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, left one anti-fascist protester dead.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reported in March 2020 that white nationalist hate groups increased 55% during the Trump era, saying that the surge stemmed from “a deep fear of demographic change”.