IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

A week later, Trump still hasn’t denounced his antisemitic guests

Donald Trump has had plenty of time to denounce Nick Fuentes, Kanye West and their hateful ideologies. He has chosen not to.


After Donald Trump’s ugly reaction to a racist event in Charlottesville in 2017, the then-president lost a fair amount of support from his Jewish allies. As The New York Times reported, Trump’s willingness to dine with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes — two of the nation’s most high-profile antisemites — appears to be pushing Jewish Republicans even further away.

Not all Republican leaders have spoken out, but Jewish Republicans are slowly peeling away from a former president who, for years, insisted he had no ties to the bigoted far right, but refused to repudiate it. Jewish figures and organizations that have stood by Mr. Trump, from [Morton Klein’s Zionist Organization of America] to the pro-Trump commentator Ben Shapiro to Mr. Trump’s own former ambassador to Israel and onetime bankruptcy lawyer, David M. Friedman, have all spoken out since the dinner.

“I am a child of survivors. I have become very frightened for my people,” Morton Klein told the Times, referring to his parents’ survival of the Holocaust. “Donald Trump is not an antisemite. He loves Israel. He loves Jews. But he mainstreams, he legitimizes Jew hatred and Jew haters. And this scares me.”

The comments came on the heels of a tweet from David Friedman, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Israel in the Trump administration, and who wrote on Friday, “To my friend Donald Trump, you are better than this. Even a social visit from an antisemite like Kanye West and human scum like Nick Fuentes is unacceptable. I urge you to throw those bums out, disavow them and relegate them to the dustbin of history where they belong.”

The plea for the former president to “disavow” his bigoted dinner guests was of particular interest — because it’s a step the Republican has so far been reluctant to take.

To be sure, Trump has published several missives in recent days about the meal he shared with West and Fuentes at Mar-a-Lago, and he’s written more than once that he doesn’t know Fuentes, the notorious Holocaust denier and white supremacist. Whether that’s true or not is the subject of some debate.

But that detail is only part of a larger picture: Whether Trump knew Fuentes or not, he certainly knew West, he was aware of the entertainer’s antisemitism, and he’s had plenty of time to denounce his dinner guests and their hateful ideologies.

He’s chosen not to.

And that’s ultimately one of the core elements fueling this controversy. If the former president spent some time with two brazen antisemites, only to unreservedly condemn their beliefs soon after, there’d likely still be a public conversation about the company Trump keeps, and the vetting at his glorified country club, but it’d be a different kind of story.

What’s actually happened, however, is that the Republican hung out with an infamous Holocaust denier, whom he still hasn’t condemned a week later.

I’m often reminded of something former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum said a couple of years ago. After a presidential debate in which Trump balked at explicitly condemning white supremacists, Santorum explained that the then-president “doesn’t like” to “say something bad about people who support him.”

The problem for Trump is that this is the more charitable explanation of recent events. By this reasoning, the Republican doesn’t agree with Fuentes and West, but they support him, so he won’t condemn them.

The more unsettling possibility is that Trump is saying nothing because he agrees with his bigoted dinner companions.