The Republican establishment has been largely silent in the week since former President Donald Trump met with dinner guest from hell white supremacist Nick Fuentes.
Fuentes, a Holocaust denier and Vladimir Putin supporter, arrived Tuesday at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate alongside rapper Kanye West, another outspoken antisemite.
Trump confirmed a few days later that he had a dinner meeting with both men. He claimed he didn’t know who Fuentes was, but he has previously retweeted a clip from Fuentes’s internet show.
As of Monday morning, not a single member of the GOP leadership in Congress had condemned Trump’s meeting with Fuentes.
Some Republicans have spoken out against the meeting but have either been wishy-washy or avoided mentioning Trump by name. Representative James Comer said Trump merely “needs better judgment in who he dines with,” while RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel only said that white supremacy and neo-Nazism are “disgusting.”
Those who have explicitly called Trump out are not lawmakers in positions with much influence on the GOP at large.
Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, both members of the House January 6 committee, were quick to condemn Trump, with Cheney calling the meeting “indefensible.” Unfortunately, both members are leaving Congress in January.
Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, rumored to be considering a 2024 presidential run, said Trump knew what he was doing when he met with Fuentes and warned against “empowering the extremes.”
But Representative Kevin McCarthy, who is the Republican nominee for speaker of the House, has remained silent, likely because condemning Trump risks alienating the former leader’s supporters still in Congress (speaking of empowering the extremes). McCarthy will need every vote he can get if he is to become speaker.
Despite a poor showing by MAGA candidates during the midterms, Trump still holds considerable sway in Congress. The GOP establishment seems to be souring on him, but they still need his support to present a unified front.