WASHINGTON — Nick Fuentes, 24, who parlayed a podcast from the basement of his parents’ LaGrange Park home to being the face of antisemitism in the U.S. today, was condemned on Tuesday by the top two Republican leaders in Congress, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy.
McConnell, the Senate minority leader, didn’t wait to be asked about Fuentes and the dinner he had Nov. 22 with former President Donald Trump and the rapper formerly known as Kanye West — who has his own history of antisemitism — at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
Speaking to reporters in the Capitol, McConnell, from Kentucky, kicked off his remarks saying, “There is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy, 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’s rebuke to Trump, who announced a 2024 presidential bid a week before the dinner, was clear and unequivocal.
McCarthy, the House minority leader from California who is wrangling votes to become speaker when the Republicans take over the House in January, was more slippery in his comments — denouncing Fuentes while defending Trump.
Here’s the context: The GOP will control the House by only a few votes, and McCarthy can’t afford to alienate the extremist Republicans in the House who are to the right of the right — such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., or Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., who appeared at an event of the America First Political Action Conference — an organization founded by Fuentes — in 2020.
McCarthy made his remarks outside the West Wing of the White House, after a meeting of Democratic and Republican congressional leaders with President Joe Biden.
A reporter asked McCarthy why he has yet to condemn Trump for dining with West and Fuentes, a white supremacist who in the past weeks has been teaming up with West — who brought him to Mar-a-Lago.
McCarthy replied, “I don’t think anybody should be spending any time with Nick Fuentes. He has no place in this Republican Party.”
McCarthy went on to say, falsely, “I think President Trump came out four times and condemned him and didn’t know who he was.”
A reporter pushed back, telling McCarthy, “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.”
Trump has issued at least four statements about the dinner, claiming he did not know Fuentes. Though Trump may not have realized who Fuentes was on the night of Nov. 22, enough time has passed for him to have figured it out — and Trump has never issued any statement denouncing Fuentes’ ideology of hate.
The dinner with Trump and West has brought Fuentes, a graduate of Lyons Township High School, a new level of attention, but for those who study the rise of the right in America, and the young influencers who are a part of it, Fuentes has been a known figure for several years. He was 22 when he was the subject of a BBC documentary, “Louis Theroux: Forbidden America,” in which Theroux interviewed the young podcaster.
I worry in writing about Fuentes — I did a column on him that posted Sunday — I am giving an antisemite a platform, which might make it easier for him to spread his hate and white nationalism. What I reported in that column — and it bears repeating — is who we are dealing with here. “Fuentes is among the most prominent and unapologetic antisemites around,” David Goldenberg, the Anti-Defamation League director of the Midwest regional office, told the Chicago Sun-Times on Sunday.
Theroux in an interview was asked about boosting the voices of hate.
“That’s a great question, and it’s something we’ve wrestled with a lot,” he said. “The first point would be that, these voices are already amplified, right? I mean, they already have access to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of tender young ears, eyes and minds, with the internet.”
Said Theroux, and I agree, “So this phenomenon exists in the world, and by not reporting on it, it’s not going to go away.”
Although Fuentes is trying to cultivate far-right Republicans, according to Cook County voting records in 2020 he voted from his La Grange Park address — and pulled a Democratic primary ballot. In 2016 and 2018, he took GOP primary ballots. Currently, Fuentes is not listed as a voter in Chicago or suburban Cook County.