In a statement to Axios, Trump claimed the Ye invite was intentional, but distanced himself from Fuentes:
“Kanye West very much wanted to visit Mar-a-Lago,” Trump said. “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.”
Whatever the intent, the meeting granted a previously fringe fascist who proudly espouses racist and antisemitic views an audience with an ex-president who is looking to return to power in 2024. On his online talk show, Fuentes fantasizes about a “white uprising” headed by Trump, who he believes should declare a dictatorship in America.
Fuentes attended the “Unite the Right” neo-Nazi rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 and led a group of his followers — whom he calls “groypers” to rally outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He said the next day that the insurrection was “awesome and I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t.”
At least seven people with connections to his America First organization have been charged with federal crimes in connection with the Capitol attack. In January, Fuentes was issued a subpoena by the House Jan. 6 committee seeking information about his role in the insurrection.
Michael Edison Hayden, a senior investigator with the Southern Poverty Law Center, highlighted the grim implications of Fuentes’ Mar-a-Lago appearance:
“It’s not only that Nick Fuentes is antisemitic, racist and hates women. He talks about bringing us back ‘to the Middle Ages,’” Hayden said on Twitter. “We’re talking about very radical stuff that you’d hope would be considered on the lunatic fringe.”
Ye, who recently had his Twitter account unlocked after a ban for antisemitic tweets, posted several videos to the platform Thursday night in which he made various claims about the dinner. He said Trump was “really impressed” with Fuentes because “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, who has said he wants to run for president, claimed Trump soured on him after he suggested the ex-president be his running mate in 2024. Trump, he said, was “screaming” at him by the end of the meeting.