Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday criticized former President Donald Trump for dining at his Mar-a-Lago estate with white nationalist Nick Fuentes and rapper Ye, who was formerly known as Kanye West and who recently has made antisemitic comments.
McConnell didn't mention Trump by name, but said:
"First, let me just say that there is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy," the Kentucky Republican said at the start of a routine press conference in Washington, D.C. "And anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States."
McConnell did not directly answer a reporter's question about whether he'd support Trump, who publicly and repeatedly has made racist and antisemitic comments of his own over the years, if GOP voters elect him as their party's 2024 nominee for president.
Instead, McConnell said: "Look, let me just say again, there is simply no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy, and that would apply to all of the leaders in the party who will be seeking offices."
Trump hosted Fuentes and Ye last week at his Florida resort, a decision for which was quickly and broadly criticized. He said online that he originally was supposed to dine only with Ye, but the rapper "unexpectedly showed up" with three people, including Fuentes, "whom I knew nothing about."
Ye already had made widely publicized, antisemitic comments by the time Trump met with him, including a since-removed October tweet threatening to go "death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE."
Antisemitism remains a problem in the United States. A longstanding Jewish civil rights organization known as the Anti-Defamation League recorded a higher number of antisemitic incidents against Jewish Americans in 2021 than it ever had in prior years.
Fuentes is a Holocaust denier who openly promotes antisemitic and racist rhetoric, including white nationalist ideas.
White nationalists generally make the racist claim that the white race is superior and push for racial segregation. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, says Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups could "be fairly described as white nationalist."
This week, a white supremacist pled guilty to criminal charges for a racist mass shooting this year in Buffalo, New York, during which he shot and killed 10 Black people.
Trump was heavily criticized in 2017 after he said there were "very fine people on both sides" of a violent white nationalist rally that had just happened in Charlottesville, Virginia. Counter-protesters had shown up to oppose the white nationalists, and a white supremacist ran his car into a group of them, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
McConnell largely aided Trump during his tenure in the White House, even though the former commander-in-chief repeatedly made racist remarks before and during his presidency. The duo worked together to transform the federal judiciary and appoint three Supreme Court justices, who went on to help overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate a nationwide right to abortion.
Their political relationship fractured following Trump's 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden, and especially after Trump tried to overturn the legitimate results and his lies about the election being stolen fueled a violent insurrection Jan. 6, 2021.
McConnell voted to acquit Trump in the impeachment trial over Jan. 6 but made it clear he thinks Trump bears responsibility for the insurrection. The month after the insurrection, though, McConnell publicly said he would "absolutely" support Trump if the Republican Party nominated him for president in 2024.
USA TODAY contributed to this report. Reach reporter Morgan Watkins at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @morganwatkins26.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Mitch McConnell opposes Trump's dinner with Ye and a white nationalist