Former President Donald Trump distanced himself Friday from a pre-Thanksgiving dinner at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, and white supremacist Nick Fuentes, saying he did not know the identity of the far-right activist. who was unexpectedly brought in with the rapper.
Last week, Kanye West called me for dinner at Mar-a-Lago. Shortly after, he unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about, Trump said Friday in a statement on his Truth Social platform.
We dined on Tuesday evening with many members present on the back patio. The dinner was quick and uneventful, Trump said. They then left for the airport.
A person familiar with the dinner conversation who is not involved in Trump’s presidential campaign and two Trump advisers briefed on the dinner corroborated Trump’s claim that he did not know Fuentes’ identity when they spoke. dined together. All three sources spoke on condition of anonymity given the nature of the controversy.
But although Trump suggested the event was uneventful, the fallout from his dinner with Fuentes appears to have thrown the Trump campaign into damage control mode. The former president took hours to respond publicly after several outlets reported that Fuentes was present at the dinner.
Even Trump’s two advisers grimaced at how a Holocaust denier like Fuentes could end up with Trump at dinner, even if it was by mistake with the rapper, who had just had his Twitter account restored but lost important endorsement deals for making anti-Semitic remarks. .
Far-right activist Nick Fuentes holds a rally at the Lansing Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020.Nicole Hester/Mlive.com/Ann Arbor News via AP file
‘It’s a fucking nightmare,’ said a longtime Trump adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of stoking the former president’s anger at ‘disloyal’ people who criticize him. . “If people look [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis to run against Trump, here’s another reason why.”
The three sources close to the dinner told NBC News there was one glaring inaccuracy in Trump’s statement: Trump knew one of the three friends the rapper brought, Karen Giorno. She was the Trump campaign manager in Florida in 2016 and the former president knows her by name and sight, the sources said. In addition to Giorno and Fuentes, Ye also brought in another man who was an associate, the sources say.
The source familiar with the dinner conversation said the dinner heated up after Ye, who on Thursday announced another run for president in 2024, asked Trump to be his running mate. Trump then proceeded to insult Yes’ ex-wife Kim Kardashian, according to the source and a video Ye posted to Twitter on Thanksgiving Day recounting the dinner.
The source also said that Fuentes was helping advise Ye in his second presidential campaign. The rapper said the campaign would be led by Milo Yiannopoulos, a far-right provocateur and former Breitbart editor who was banned in 2016 for inciting a racist campaign against comedian Leslie Jones.
Ye, Fuentes and Yiannopoulos declined to comment on the dinner.
Details about the dinner started popping up on Twitter on Wednesday when a Politico reporter tweeted that Ye and Fuentes were spotted at Mar-a-Lago. Conservative site Timcast confirmed Fuentes’ attendance at the dinner, followed by Axios.
The porous nature of Mar-a-Lago, where anyone with connections can meet Trump, has long concerned his advisers. It also helped put Trump in the crosshairs of a federal investigation after the FBI in August executed a search warrant at the club looking for classified marked documents that the federal government says Trump should not have possessed.
Trump’s statement on Truth Social did not disavow anti-Semitism or racism, but his campaign in a follow-up message highlighted Trump’s support for Israel, his administration’s peace deal with the Israel Accords. Abraham in the Middle East and his opposition to anti-Semitism in Iran.
But Trump also embraced anti-Semitic tropes and figures, implying that American Jews have dual loyalties to Israel and saying there were ‘very good people on both sides’ at the white supremacist ‘Unite the Right’ rally. in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. Fuentes attended that event, and after Trump said he denounced white supremacy at the rally, Fuentes denounced him for it.
In his video debrief, Ye said Trump was genuinely impressed with Nick Fuentes. Nick Fuentes, unlike so many lawyers and so many people he found himself with during his 2020 campaign, is actually a loyalist [for Trump].
The Trump campaign’s independent source said Trump had planned to have private dinner with Ye at the Mar-a-Lagos library, but then said they would have to eat outside on the public patio. The former president also invited the others.
The subject of racism and anti-Semitism was not broached and Fuentes presented himself as a statistician. He was very familiar with the polls and the Trump campaign. Trump was very impressed but Trump didn’t know who he was, the source said.
Trump asked Fuentes about his 2024 announcement speech the previous week and Fuentes criticized Trump for being too scripted a “teleprompter” and having low energy, the source said. Fuentes and West, the source added, also said Trump should have granted a blanket pardon to everyone involved in the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, which Yes’ video debriefing also mentioned.
Trump also mentioned his adviser, Jason Miller, to Fuentes, who criticized veteran social media site operator Gettr, who banned Fuentes, according to a copy of a group text message exchange Ye posted. on Twitter on Thursday.
The Trumps Truth Social platform, however, verified that Fuentes was a notable user.
At some point, the conversation got tense and Trump started making his critical remarks about Yes ex, Kardashian. She’s the mother of my children, Ye protested, according to her debriefing video.
Trump then came alive with Ye challenging him. You will not win. You can’t beat me, Trump told Ye, the source said. Nick, you work for this guy, and just because you work for him, you gonna tell him he can beat me? You just finished telling me that I was the best president ever.
Ye said in his video debrief that Trump was angry.
When Trump started yelling at me at the table saying I was going to lose, I mean, did that ever work out for anyone in the story? said the rapper. I’m like hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, Trump. You talk to Ye.
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