House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) condemned white nationalist figure Nick Fuentes after former President Trump dined with Fuentes and rapper Ye at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida last week.
But McCarthy did not place blame on Trump.
“I don’t think anybody should be spending any time with Nick Fuentes,” McCarthy told reporters outside the White House on Tuesday after a meeting with other top congressional leaders and President Biden. “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,” McCarthy said.
A reporter noted Trump did not condemn Fuentes’s ideology.
“Well, I condemn his ideology. It has no place in society — at all,” McCarthy said.
Pressed on Trump attending the dinner with Ye, formerly Kanye West, who has also made antisemitic remarks, McCarthy said: “So he knew who Kanye West is, he didn’t know who Fuentes is.”
Trump said in a statement after the dinner that he did not know who Fuentes was and that he was trying to help West, who he described as a “seriously troubled man.”
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) — the outgoing congresswoman who was removed as House Republican Conference chair last year over her continued criticism of Trump — had earlier on Tuesday pressed McCarthy to condemn Trump for the dinner.
“Hey @GOPLeader — where is your condemnation of Donald Trump for meeting with neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes, the pro-Putin leader of the America First Political Action Conference? I know you want to be Speaker, but are you willing to be completely amoral?” Cheney tweeted Tuesday.
McCarthy was also asked about connections that those in the House Republican Conference have to Fuentes, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who spoke at one of his conferences earlier this year.
“She denounced him,” McCarthy said.
Greene said after speaking at the conference that she did not have an “alignment” with Fuentes’s views, but that her speech “was to talk about getting everyone together to save our country.”
Many GOP officials have condemned Fuentes in light of the dinner, but Republicans have placed varying degrees of blame — or not — on Trump.
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), who is likely to be chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee next year, said Sunday that Trump “needs better judgment in who he dines with.”