Republican House leader McCarthy condemns Trump's white supremacist guest Fuentes

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks to the media after a meeting with US President Joe Biden and Congressional leaders at the White House. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON - Kevin McCarthy, a top congressional Republican, broke his silence on Tuesday about former president Donald Trump’s dinner with white supremacist Nick Fuentes, saying the Republican Party has no place in it for Fuentes’ beliefs.

Mr McCarthy, who may become speaker of the US House of Representatives when Republicans take control in January, had not commented on the meeting, which took place a week ago.

He was pressed for his thoughts on the meeting by reporters at the White House after talks with President Joe Biden.

“I don’t think anybody should be spending any time with Nick Fuentes,” said Mr McCarthy, currently the House minority leader.

“His views are nowhere within the Republican Party or within this country itself.”

Mr Trump has said the encounter at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, was inadvertent, but the meeting has drawn rare criticism from fellow Republicans, some of whom accused Mr Trump of empowering extremism.

Mr Fuentes has been described as a white supremacist by the US Justice Department.

The Anti-Defamation League said Mr Fuentes once “‘jokingly denied the Holocaust and compared Jews burnt in concentration camps to cookies in an oven.’“

Mr Trump on Nov 15 began his third consecutive run for the presidency, saying he would seek the Republican nomination for the 2024 election.

While president, Mr Trump was broadly criticised for not explicitly condemning white nationalists whose August 2017 rally on a college campus in Charlottesville, Virginia, was seen as having provoked violence with counter-protesters, one of whom died.

“You also had people that were very fine people on both sides,” Mr Trump said at the time.

Pence calls for apology

Mr Trump’s former vice-president Mike Pence on Monday called for an apology from Mr Trump for the meeting with Mr Fuentes.

“President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table, and I think he should apologise,” Mr Pence said in a televised interview with NewsNation.

Mr McCarthy, who is seeking to take over as House speaker when Republicans assume control of the chamber in January, said Mr Trump said he didn’t know who Mr Fuentes was.

“I condemn his ideology. It has no place in society,” he said of Mr Fuentes. Tuesday’s comments were Mr McCarthy’s first directly addressing the Trump dinner.

A 2018 photo shows rapper Kanye West embracing then-president Donald Trump during a visit to the Oval Office. PHOTO: NYTIMES

Mr Fuentes attended the dinner with Ye, the musician formerly known as Kanye West, who has also drawn widespread criticism for anti-Semitic comments.

“The president will have meetings with who he wants. I don’t think anybody, though, should have a meeting with Nick Fuentes, and his views should come nowhere within the Republican Party or the country itself,” Mr McCarthy said. REUTERS

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