Former President Donald Trump distanced himself from a pre-Thanksgiving dinner at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida on Friday with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, and white supremacist Nick Fuentes, claiming he did not know the identity. from the distant right-wing activist who was unexpectedly brought along with the rapper.
“Last week, Kanye West called me to have dinner at Mar-a-Lago. Shortly after, he showed up unexpectedly with three of his friends that he knew nothing about, ”Trump said Friday in a statement on his Truth Social platform.
“We had dinner Tuesday night with many members present in the backyard. Dinner was quick and uneventful,” Trump said. “Then they went to the airport.”
A person familiar with the dinner conversation who is not involved in Trump’s presidential campaign and two Trump aides briefed on the dinner corroborated Trump’s claim that he did not know Fuentes’s identity when they dined together. The three sources spoke on condition of anonymity due to the nature of the controversy.
But despite Trump’s suggestion that the event was “uneventful,” the fallout from his dinner with Fuentes appears to have thrown the Trump campaign into damage control mode. The former president took hours to respond publicly after multiple media outlets reported that Fuentes was present at the dinner.
Even the two Trump advisers were shocked to see how a holocaust denier how Fuentes was able to end Trump at dinner, even if it was by mistake, along with the rapper, who had just had his Twitter account restored but lost major endorsement deals for making anti-Semitic comments.
“This is a fucking nightmare,” said a former Trump aide who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of stoking the former president’s anger against “disloyal” critics. “If people look [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis to run against Trump, here’s another reason why.”
The three sources familiar with the dinner told NBC News that there was a glaring inaccuracy in Trump’s statement: Trump knew one of the three “friends” brought by the rapper, Karen Giorno. She was a campaign manager for Trump in Florida in 2016 and the former president knows her by name and sight, the sources said. In addition to Giorno and Fuentes, Ye also brought with him another man who was a partner, according to the sources.
The source familiar with the dinner conversation said the dinner heated up after Ye, who announced another 2024 presidential bid on Thursday, asked Trump to be his running mate. Trump then began insulting Ye’s ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, according to the source and a video which Ye posted on Twitter on Thanksgiving recounting dinner.
The source also said that Fuentes is helping advise Ye in his second presidential campaign. The rapper said the campaign would be led by Milo Yiannopoulos, a far-right troublemaker and former Breitbart editor who was ousted in 2016 for inciting a racist campaign against comedian Leslie Jones.
Ye, Fuentes and Yiannopoulos declined to comment on the dinner.
Details about the dinner began to surface on Twitter on Wednesday when a Politico reporter tweeted that Ye and Fuentes had been seen at Mar-a-Lago. The conservative website Timcast confirmed the presence of Fuentes at the dinner, followed by Axios.
The porous nature of Mar-a-Lago, where anyone with connections can meet Trump, has long been a concern of his advisers. He also helped put Trump in the crosshairs of a federal investigation after the FBI executed a search warrant at the club in August looking for documents marked as classified that the federal government said Trump should not have possessed.
Trump’s statement on Truth Social did not reject anti-Semitism or racism, but his campaign in a follow-up message noted Trump’s support for Israel, the Abraham Accords Middle East peace deal reached by his administration, and his opposition. to antisemitism in Iran.
But Trump has also embraced antisemitic tropes and figures, implying that American Jews have a dual allegiance to Israel and say there was “very good people on both sidesat the “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. Fuentes attended that event and, after Trump said he denounced white supremacy at the rally, Fuentes denounced him for that.
In his video report, Ye said that “Trump is really impressed with Nick Fuentes. Nick Fuentes, unlike many of the lawyers and so many people he stuck with in his 2020 campaign, is actually a loyalist. [for Trump].”
The independent Trump campaign source said Trump had planned to have private dinner with Ye at the Mar-a-Lago library, but later said they should eat outside on the public patio. The former president also invited the others.
The issue of racism and anti-Semitism did not come up and Fuentes “presented himself as a statistician. He knew a lot about the polls and the Trump campaign. Trump was very impressed, but Trump didn’t know who he was,” the source said.
Trump asked Fuentes about his 2024 announcement speech the week before, and Fuentes criticized Trump for having too much of a “teleprompter” script and being low on energy. said the source. Fuentes and West, the source added, also said that Trump should have issued a blanket pardon for everyone involved in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, which is also mentioned in Ye’s video report.
Trump also mentioned his adviser, Jason Miller, to Fuentes, who criticized the veteran agent for now running the Gettr social media site, which banned Fuentes, according to a copy of a group text message exchange Ye posted on Twitter on Thursday.
Trump’s Truth Social platform, however, has verified sources as a notable user.
At one point, the conversation turned tense and Trump began making critical comments about Ye’s ex, Kardashian. “That is the mother of my children,” Ye protested, according to her video report of her.
Trump later perked up about Ye challenging him. “You are not going to win. You can’t beat me,” Trump told Ye, the source said. “Nick, you work for the guy, and just because you work for him, are you going to tell him he can beat me? You just told me I was the best president ever.”
Ye said in his video report that Trump was angry.
“When Trump basically started yelling at me across the table telling me I was going to lose, I mean, has that ever worked for anyone in history?” said the rapper. “I’m like wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, Trump. You’re talking to Ye.