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Fact-checking Kevin McCarthy on what Donald Trump said about Nick Fuentes

PolitiFact | Trump made at least four statements on his controversial dinner. In none did he condemn Fuentes.
Nick Fuentes, a right-wing podcaster, center, speaks in front of flags that say, "America First," at a pro-Trump march, on Nov. 14, 2020, in Washington. Former President Donald Trump had dinner on Nov. 22, 2022, at his Mar-a-Lago club with the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, who is now known as Ye, as well as Nick Fuentes, who has used his online platform to spew antisemitic and white supremacist rhetoric.
Nick Fuentes, a right-wing podcaster, center, speaks in front of flags that say, "America First," at a pro-Trump march, on Nov. 14, 2020, in Washington. Former President Donald Trump had dinner on Nov. 22, 2022, at his Mar-a-Lago club with the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, who is now known as Ye, as well as Nick Fuentes, who has used his online platform to spew antisemitic and white supremacist rhetoric. [ JACQUELYN MARTIN | AP ]
Published Dec. 1, 2022

When California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican nominee for House speaker, faced reporters Nov. 29, he got some questions about his meetings that day with President Joe Biden and other congressional leaders. But he was also asked about former President Donald Trump and a controversial dinner he’d held days earlier.

On Nov. 22, Trump had dined at his Mar-a-Lago estate with rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, and right-wing commentator Nick Fuentes. Both Ye and Fuentes have received criticism, including from senior Republicans, over past antisemitic comments and other controversial statements.

Related: Trump draws heat for Mar-a-Lago dinner with white nationalist, rapper Ye

During his question-and-answer session, reporters pressed McCarthy on Trump’s judgment in having dinner with Ye and Fuentes. McCarthy condemned Fuentes, saying, “I condemn his ideology. It has no place in society at all.” He added that Fuentes’ views “are nowhere within the Republican Party or within this country itself.”

But McCarthy stopped short of criticizing Trump for breaking bread with Fuentes. And he asserted that Trump had joined in his condemnation of Fuentes on multiple occasions.

“I think President Trump came out four times and condemned him and didn’t know who he was,” McCarthy said.

That drew real-time pushback from a reporter, who said, “He didn’t condemn him or his ideology.” McCarthy responded, “The president didn’t know who he was.”

A look at Trump’s statements during the week between the Nov. 22 dinner and McCarthy’s press availability Nov. 29 show that McCarthy was wrong. Specifically, Trump did not condemn Fuentes on four occasions; instead, Trump said in four statements that he did not know who Fuentes was.

Neither McCarthy’s office nor Trump’s office responded to an inquiry for this article.

Nov. 25, 12:35 p.m.: Journalist Jonathan Swan tweeted the text of a statement that Trump provided to his publication, Axios, about the dinner. In the statement, Trump said, “Kanye West very much wanted to visit Mar-a-Lago. Our dinner meeting was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about” — that is, Fuentes.

Nov. 25, 5:31 p.m.: Trump sent a message on his Truth Social network. It says, “Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, was asking me for advice concerning some of his difficulties, in particular having to do with his business. We also discussed, to a lesser extent, politics, where I told him he should definitely not run for President, ‘any voters you may have should vote for TRUMP.’ Anyway, we got along great, he expressed no anti-Semitism, & I appreciated all of the nice things he said about me on ‘Tucker Carlson.’ Why wouldn’t I agree to meet? Also, I didn’t know Nick Fuentes.”

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Nov. 26, 1:26 p.m.: Trump sent another message on Truth Social: “This past week, Kanye West called me to have dinner at Mar-a-Lago. Shortly thereafter, he unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about. We had dinner on Tuesday evening with many members present on the back patio. The dinner was quick and uneventful. They then left for the airport.”

Nov. 26, 6:43 p.m.: Trump sent one more message on Truth Social: “So I help a seriously troubled man, who just happens to be black, Ye (Kanye West), who has been decimated in his business and virtually everything else, and who has always been good to me, by allowing his request for a meeting at Mar-a-Lago, alone, so that I can give him very much needed ‘advice.’ He shows up with 3 people, two of which I didn’t know, the other a political person who I haven’t seen in years. I told him don’t run for office, a total waste of time, can’t win. Fake News went CRAZY!”

(The “political person who I haven’t seen in years” appears to be Karen Giorno, a former Trump 2016 campaign adviser who gave Ye a ride to Mar-a-Lago, NBC News reported.)

To sum up, Trump’s stance in each of the statements is consistent: He said he did not know Fuentes ahead of time and did not know that he was coming to the dinner with Ye.

What Trump did not say in these four statements is what McCarthy suggested: that he condemned Fuentes.

Trump went further in a statement provided to Fox News, but the article was published at 5:50 p.m. Nov, 29, the same day McCarthy had spoken around noon.

In the statement to Fox News, Trump said of Fuentes, “I had never heard of the man — I had no idea what his views were, and they weren’t expressed at the table in our very quick dinner, or it wouldn’t have been accepted.”

Reasonable people can disagree about whether this qualifies as a condemnation of Fuentes, but in any case, it did not become public knowledge until after McCarthy made his comments to reporters.

Our ruling

McCarthy said, “I think President Trump came out four times and condemned” Nick Fuentes.

Trump made at least four statements during the previous week in which he addressed his controversial dinner with Ye and Fuentes. However, his references to Fuentes were in passing, mainly to say he had not known who he was. In none of the four statements did he condemn Fuentes.

We rate the statement False.