Mike Pence calls on Donald Trump to apologize for dinner with Holocaust-denying white nationalist Nick Fuentes, Kanye West

WASHINGTON– A growing number of Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence, criticized Donald Trump Monday for having dinner with a Holocaust-denying white nationalist and the rapper formerly known as Kanye West days after the launch of his third White House campaign would have.

Pence urged Trump to apologize in an interview and said the former president “exercised profoundly poor judgment” when he met with West, now known as Ye, at his Mar-a-Lago club last week , as well as Nick Fuentes, a far-right activist with a long history of espousing anti-Semitic and white nationalist views.

The episode serves as an early test of whether party leaders will continue to rally behind Trump if he launches another campaign for the White House after spending much of the past eight years responding to the controversies he caused.

Trump said he didn’t know who Fuentes was before the meeting. But he has so far refused to acknowledge or denounce the positions of Fuentes or Ye, who has made a series of anti-Semitic comments in recent weeks, leading to his suspension from social media platforms and the end of his ties with big companies like Adidas have led .

“President Trump wrongly gave a seat at the table to a white nationalist, an anti-Semite, and a Holocaust denier, and I think he should apologize for that. And he should denounce these individuals and their hateful rhetoric without reservation,” Pence said in an interview with NewsNation’s Leland Vittert that aired Monday night.

SEE ALSO: Pence says he ‘cannot explain’ what Trump did on Jan. 6

Still, Pence, considering his own possible run against his former boss, said he doesn’t think Trump is anti-Semitic or racist and said he wouldn’t have served as Trump’s vice president if he had been.

The decision to criticize Trump’s actions – but still defend the man himself – underscores the former president’s continued influence in the party, even as he finds himself in a moment of intense vulnerability. Blaming him for their worse-than-expected showing in this year’s midterm elections, many of the party’s top fundraisers and strategists are increasingly saying they believe it’s time to move on. At the same time, Trump remains well-liked among the GOP grassroots, and even candidates hoping to challenge him for the Republican nomination risk alienating those voters by being too critical of him.

Some, like Sen. Thom Tillis, RN.C., accused Trump’s staff of allowing Fuentes to attend the dinner when no staff attended.

“If he didn’t know whoever was responsible for knowing the backgrounds of the people in the room, I hope they’re already fired,” Tillis told reporters at the Capitol Monday night.

When asked if Trump should apologize, he said, “I’ll leave that to President Trump.”

Still others were less ambiguous.

“President Trump, hosting racist anti-Semites for dinner, encourages other racist anti-Semites. These attitudes are immoral and should not be nurtured. This is not the Republican Party,” tweeted Senator Bill Cassidy, R-La.

“There is no place for anti-Semitism or white supremacy in the Republican Party. Period,” added Florida Senator Rick Scott, who chaired the party’s Senate campaign committee this cycle.

Others were more dismissive. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a longtime Trump ally, said: “Yes, the meeting was bad. He shouldn’t have.” But he added that “there’s a double standard in this kind of thing and I don’t think that’s going to matter in terms of his political future.”

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said he supposes Trump “can have dinner with whoever he wants, but I wouldn’t have dinner with him.” I will put it that way.”

Still others, including House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and others who were considering challenging Trump for the GOP nomination, have remained silent.

The meeting had already drawn criticism from prominent Jewish organizations and Trump’s former ambassador to Israel. But as of Monday, few Republicans had interfered. They included former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another potential Trump 2024 rival, who told the New York Times the dinner was “just another example of a terrible lack of judgment on the part of Donald Trump.” which, combined with his previous poor judgments, makes him an untenable candidate for the 2024 Republican Party general election.

Retired Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is also contemplating a White House run, called Sunday’s meeting on CNN “very disturbing” and said “it shouldn’t be happening.”

“When you meet people, you empower. And you have to avoid that. You want to diminish their strength, not increase them. Stay away from them,” he said.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, another potential 2024 rival, denounced anti-Semitism as a “cancer,” but didn’t directly refer to the dinner or the president he served under.

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Colvin reported from New York.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

https://6abc.com/donald-trump-mike-pence-nick-fuentes-kanye-west/12507163/ Mike Pence calls on Donald Trump to apologize for dinner with Holocaust-denying white nationalist Nick Fuentes, Kanye West

Alley Einstein

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