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Fact check: Kevin McCarthy falsely claims Trump condemned White nationalist Nick Fuentes

By Daniel Dale, CNN

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was asked on Tuesday about how he hadn’t yet condemned former President Donald Trump for having dinner a week ago with Nick Fuentes, a White nationalist and Holocaust denier.

McCarthy said, “I don’t think anybody should be spending any time with Nick Fuentes. He has no place in this Republican Party. I think President Trump came out four times and condemned him, and didn’t know who he was.”

A reporter responded: “Well, he just said he didn’t know who he was. He didn’t condemn him or his ideology.”

McCarthy then said, “Well, I condemn his ideology. It has no place in society. At all.”

But the reporter was correct about Trump.

Facts First: McCarthy’s claim was false: Trump had not condemned Fuentes at the time McCarthy spoke. Trump had made at least four statements about the dinner, saying each time that he had not known Fuentes, but none of these statements included a denunciation of Fuentes.

In yet another statement, published by Fox more than five hours after McCarthy made his comments on Tuesday, Trump said that Fuentes hadn’t expressed his views at the dinner and that if Fuentes had, “it wouldn’t have been accepted.” This was the closest Trump has come to condemning Fuentes.

Trump’s statements about the dinner

Here’s what Trump has actually said in his public statements about the dinner, which took place at his Mar-a-Lago resort and residence in Florida last Tuesday.

Fuentes attended the dinner with rapper Kanye West, who made antisemitic comments this fall. When the media outlet Axios reported on the dinner on Friday, Trump issued a statement that 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.” The statement said nothing negative about Fuentes or his views.

Trump also did not criticize Fuentes or his views in two Friday posts about the dinner on social media platform Truth Social. Trump wrote, among other things, that West had “unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about,” that the dinner was “quick and uneventful,” that West “expressed no anti-Semitism,” and that “I didn’t know Nick Fuentes.”

Trump reiterated this story in a Saturday post, saying that West was supposed to come alone for advice but instead showed up “with 3 people, two of which I didn’t know, the other a political person who I haven’t seen in years.” Again, Trump did not denounce Fuentes or his views.

On Tuesday evening, more than five hours after McCarthy’s comments, Fox published an article in which Trump reiterated that he had not heard of Fuentes at the time of the dinner and added, “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.”

McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond Tuesday to CNN’s request for comment.

This article has been updated to add Trump’s Tuesday comments to Fox.

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