Updated Nov 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

GOP congressional leaders divided on response to Trump-Fuentes dinner

Kevin McCarthy speaks to reporters outside the White House on November 29, 2022.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to the media after a meeting with President Biden at the White House on Nov. 29. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) gave starkly contrasting responses Tuesday to former President Trump's dinner with antisemitic rapper Ye and white nationalist Nick Fuentes.

Driving the news: Although they both denounced him, McCarthy falsely claimed Trump condemned Fuentes, who often promotes racist and antisemitic conspiracy theories, after they met at Mar-a-Lago.

What they're saying: "I don't think anybody should be spending any time with Nick Fuentes," McCarthy, a staunch Trump ally, said. "He has no place in this Republican Party."

  • "I think President Trump came out four times and condemned him and didn't know who he was," he continued.

Context: "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 said in a statement.

  • Trump did not, however, condemn Fuentes.
  • At one point during the dinner, Trump turned to Ye and said, "I really like this guy. He gets me," per a source familiar with the dinner conversation, Axios' Jonathan Swan and Zachary Basu report.

Meanwhile, McConnell opened a press conference Tuesday saying, "There is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy, and anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States."

Background: McConnell has clashed with Trump and condemned him for Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

  • Trump, in turn, has taken aim at McConnell, including earlier this month when he said the GOP losses in the midterms were "Mitch McConnell’s fault."

Zoom out: Trump's meeting with Fuentes and Ye has drawn condemnations from some Republican senators, while other lawmakers have declined to weigh in, Axios' Andrew Solender reports.

McConnell and McCarthy have not yet responded to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper: Trump talks with white nationalist Nick Fuentes at Mar-a-Lago dinner

Trump's dinner with white nationalist spurs pushback from GOP senators

McConnell: Anyone meeting with antisemites "highly unlikely" to be president

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

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