The White House has joined some Republicans in criticising former US president Donald Trump for dining with white supremacist Nick Fuentes, saying there is no place in America for “vile forces” such as racism, bigotry and anti-Semitism.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters she would not comment on every move by Mr Trump, who this month said he would run for president again, but that it was critical to condemn such behavior in “really absolute terms”.
"There is just no place for these types of vile forces in our society," she told reporters. "When you say things like this, when you do not speak out against these kinds of poisonous and dangerous kind of remarks ... that is also incredibly dangerous within itself."
Mr Trump has said the encounter at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida was inadvertent, but it drew rare criticism from fellow Republicans, including Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, who accused him of empowering extremism.
A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Mr Trump has said in posts on his Truth Social platform that he agreed to meet with the much criticised rapper Ye, formerly Kanye West, who has lost business partners including Adidas after making anti-Semitic remarks, to give him business advice and that he did not know Mr Fuentes, who accompanied the rapper.
Mr Trump earlier this month said he plans to seek the Republican nomination to run for the White House again in 2024, though he could face challenges to that bid, including from Florida governor Ron DeSantis and his former vice president Mike Pence.
“President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an antisemite and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table, and I think he should apologise,” Mr Pence told NewsNation on Monday.
Mr Fuentes has been described as a white supremacist by the US Justice Department and he attended the January 6th, 2021, rally in Washington that preceded the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters. The Anti-Defamation League said Mr Fuentes once “‘jokingly’ denied the Holocaust and compared Jews burnt in concentration camps to cookies in an oven.’”
The White House had already took aim at Mr Trump on Sunday, saying in a statement that “bigotry, hate, and antisemitism have absolutely no place in America - including at Mar-A-Lago”.
But Ms Jean-Pierre went further, underscoring the responsibility of all to speak out against Holocaust deniers and others espousing such attitudes.
“We should all be condemning this, and we should be very clear - very clear - and say it in really absolute clear terms,” she said.
Mr Pence said he does not believe Mr Trump is antisemitic, a racist or a bigot and would not have agreed to be his vice president if he were. But he said his former boss had “demonstrated profoundly poor judgment” in meeting the men. - Reuters/Bloomberg
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