Former President Donald Trump’s meeting last week with white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes was “deeply disturbing” and “encouraging” extremism, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson said Sunday.
“No, I don’t think it’s a good idea for a leader who is an example to the country or party to meet (an) outspoken racist or anti-Semite. And so it’s very disturbing and it shouldn’t be happening and we need to avoid amplifying such extremes,” Hutchinson told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.” “You want to diminish their power, not amplify it. Stay away from it.”
Trump dined at his Mar-a-Lago estate last Tuesday with both Fuentes and rapper Kanye West, who himself fell into controversy after repeating anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and making other offensive claims last month.
The Anti-Defamation League has identified Fuentes as a white supremacist and he has been banned from most major social media platforms for his white nationalist rhetoric. Fuentes was present on the grounds of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and has promoted Trump’s baseless allegations of fraud in the 2020 election. The House select committee investigating the January 6 events subpoenaed Fuentes in January.
Trump’s meeting with the two figures has drawn widespread criticism in recent days, with Hutchinson saying on Sunday: “Well, I hope one day we don’t have to comment on what former President Trump has said or done. In this case, it is important to react.”
Hutchinson, a former U.S. attorney in Arkansas, has a limited term and will leave office in January. He is currently considering a 2024 White House bid, and he used Trump’s controversial meeting to note his own track record on such issues, telling Bash “the last time I saw a white supremacist met, was in an armed standoff. I was wearing a bulletproof vest. We arrested them, prosecuted them and sent them to prison.”
At last week’s dinner, Trump was engaged to Fuentes and found him “really interesting,” said a source familiar with the dinner, particularly Fuentes’ ability to list statistics and data, and his familiarity with Trump’s world . At one point during dinner, Trump stated that he “liked” Fuentes.
Trump confirmed the dinner in a Truth Social Friday post that said, “Last week Kanye West called me for dinner at Mar-a-Lago. Soon after, he showed up unexpectedly with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about. We had dinner on Tuesday evening with many members present on the back terrace. Dinner was fast and boring. Then they left for the airport.”
Trump later reiterated Friday that he “didn’t know” Fuentes and had given West both business and political advice.