Many of the reactions were mild and overdue, but several prominent Republicans on Monday criticized Donald Trump’s dinner with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, however, was not among the GOP voices speaking out on the antisemitism controversy.
Finally, after a morning meeting at the White House, the top House Republican addressed the matter during a brief Q&A with reporters. NBC News reported:
Asked about the meeting, McCarthy said: “I don’t think anybody should be spending any time with Nick Fuentes. 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.”
As part of the same comments, the GOP leader went on to say, in reference to Fuentes’ hateful message, “I condemn his ideology. It has no place in society at all.”
McCarthy later added, “The president can have meetings with who he wants. I don’t think anybody, though, should have a meeting with Nick Fuentes. And his views shouldn’t — are nowhere within the Republican Party or within this country itself.”
For now, let’s put aside the question of why it took so long for the would-be House speaker to address the controversy, and why he said nothing for days even as other leaders in his party addressed the controversy. Instead, let’s consider the substance of what the Californian actually said.
At the heart of McCarthy’s unscripted comments was the insistence that Trump “came out four times” and “condemned” Fuentes. McCarthy simply made this up: The former president didn’t condemn the notorious bigot once, much less four times. The fact that the congressman couldn’t tell the truth about this basic detail didn’t exactly help matters.
But just as notable was McCarthy’s argument that no one “should have a meeting with Nick Fuentes” and his views “are nowhere within the Republican Party.” I wish it were that simple.
Unfortunately, however, Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona has associated himself with Fuentes, even delivering a keynote address at one of the extremist’s white nationalist events. What’s more, Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia also appeared with the white supremacist at this year’s America First Political Action Conference.
McCarthy said his members’ associations with Fuentes were “appalling“ and “unacceptable” — shortly before the Republican leader also said he’s prepared to reward Gosar and Greene with committee assignments in the next Congress.
Finally, let’s also not brush past the fact that while McCarthy condemned Fuentes and his views, the GOP leader made no effort to criticize Trump for having dined with two of the nation’s most prominent antisemitic voices.
As for McCarthy’s counterpart on the other side of Capitol Hill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared a bit more willing to challenge Trump — though he didn’t use the former president’s name.
“First, let me just say that there is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy,” the Kentucky Republican said at the outset of a press conference. “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.”
Again, this would ideally be true. But the fact that Trump, Gosar, and Greene have all associated with Fuentes suggests there’s at least some room in the Republican Party for tolerating such hateful garbage.