Pence: Trump isn’t antisemitic, but should apologize for Fuentes dinner
Former Vice President Mike Pence said former President Trump demonstrated "profoundly poor judgment" in having dinner with white nationalist Nick Fuentes and rapper Ye but maintained that he is not an antisemite in a Monday appearance on NewsNation's "On Balance with Leland Vittert."
Why it matters: Fuentes has been labeled a "white supremacist" by the Justice Department and frequently promotes racist and antisemitic conspiracy theories, but Axios' Jonathan Swan reports that Trump "seemed very taken" and impressed with Fuentes at the dinner, which occurred one week after he declared his 2024 candidacy.
What he's saying: "Antisemitism is a very real issue in the world today, and there's a rising tide of antisemitism in many countries," Pence said when asked about the dinner.
- "President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an antisemite and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table," he said. "I think he should apologize for it and he should denounce those individuals and their hateful rhetoric without qualification."
- "With that being said ... I don't believe Donald Trump is an antisemite. I don't believe he's a racist or a bigot," Pence added. "People often forget that the president's daughter converted to Judaism, his son-in-law is a devout Jew, his grandchildren are Jewish."
- "And so the broad brush of attack that media leveled at him — I think the president demonstrated profoundly poor judgment in giving those individuals a seat at the table."
Worth noting: Trump has sought to play down the dinner, claiming in posts on Truth Social that he didn't know Fuentes and that Ye "expressed no antisemitism."
- He later blamed Ye for Fuentes' presence, claiming the rapper brought Fuentes along unbidden.
- Fuentes said on his podcast after the dinner that he wasn't sure Trump knew who he was initially.
The big picture: Pence, who is on a book tour for his new memoir, is one of several Republicans to have criticized the move.
- Many have said Fuentes' brand of hate has no place in the party.
Don't forget: This is far from the first time Trump has been accused of antisemitism.
- He has also failed to explicitly condemn white nationalism and right-wing violence in the past.