GOP lawmakers mostly decline to condemn Trump over white supremacist meeting

Trump’s vice chairman joined a number of GOP members of Congress in blasting Trump’s dinner final week with Fuentes, who has usually shared racist and Holocaust-denying content material on-line, and Ye, the rapper previously referred to as Kanye West who has additionally made antisemitic feedback. The former president’s choice to dine with Fuentes and Ye quickly after launching his 2024 presidential marketing campaign has already sparked widespread condemnation from Democrats, however Republican lawmakers have been slower to converse out — and most who did so on Monday stopped wanting Pence’s name for an apology from Trump.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who vied in opposition to Trump within the 2016 presidential major, stated he hopes to see the previous president condemn Fuentes, “because I know [Trump’s] not an antisemite. I can tell you that for a fact that Trump is not, but [Fuentes is] evil … just a nasty disgusting person. He’s an ass clown, and he’s trying to legitimize himself by being around a former, maybe future president.”

Other Republicans frowned upon the meeting itself whereas stopping wanting outright condemnation. The Senate GOP’s No. 2 chief, John Thune of South Dakota, known as the dinner a “bad idea on every level” and stated whomever on Trump’s workers suggested it needs to be fired.

“It’s ridiculous that he had that meeting,” stated Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), one other member of GOP management. “And that’s all I’m gonna say about it. Just crazy.”

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) condemned the thought of antisemitism usually when requested concerning the meeting, however went no additional.

“We cannot tolerate antisemitism. Period,” stated Daines, who’s set to chair Senate Republicans’ marketing campaign arm for the 2024 election.

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) stated he wasn’t “gonna condemn anybody,” including that Fuentes is “just not somebody that I would have a meeting with.” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) struck an analogous word, saying whereas he wouldn’t personally dine with Fuentes, “It’s a free country, [Trump] can do whatever he wants.”

Both Rounds and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a detailed ally of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, stated they didn’t know who Fuentes was.

“I’m really not going to spend any more time worrying about whether or not those two people are meeting with one another,” Rounds stated.

Since his pre-Thanksgiving dinner with Fuentes and Ye, Trump additionally has stated he didn’t know who Fuentes was when the latter — who joined scores of different white nationalists in attending the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., that turned violent — got here to dinner at Mar-a-Lago as a visitor of Ye.

The dinner “was intended to be Kanye and me only,” Trump stated in a publish on his Truth Social platform, shying away from direct criticism of Fuentes.

Before Senate Republicans returned to Washington on Monday night, one among their very own had already tweeted with notably sharp criticism: Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who voted to convict Trump at his second impeachment trial, sought to put distance between Trump’s actions and the get together as a complete.

“President Trump hosting racist antisemites for dinner encourages other racist antisemites,” Cassidy tweeted. “These attitudes are immoral and should not be entertained. This is not the Republican Party.”

But throughout the Capitol, most House Republicans have stayed extra silent forward of their return to Washington on Tuesday.

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the incoming chair of the House Oversight Committee in subsequent Congress’ GOP majority, informed CNN on Monday that he “obviously” condemned the meeting, which Trump “never should have had.” Comer had been pressed to go farther than his preliminary feedback Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” through which he stated he personally wouldn’t take a meeting with Fuentes.

Retiring Arkansas GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson informed CNN on Sunday that Trump was setting a poor instance by meeting with a “racist.”

“We need to avoid those kinds of empowering the extremes. When you meet with people, you empower,” Hutchinson stated. He added: “Every occasion that the question of white supremacy, or neo-Nazism or denying the Holocaust comes up, you’ve got to be absolutely clear in your communication that this is not acceptable dogma.”

Burgess Everett contributed.

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