Former US vice president Mike Pence said former US president Donald Trump should apologize for dining last week with rapper Ye and a well-known white nationalist, saying his former boss showed “profoundly poor judgement” and should denounce “their hateful rhetoric without qualification.”
Pence is the most prominent Republican to criticize the former president for his meeting last week at his Mar-a-Lago resort with Ye, who was formerly known as Kanye West and has lost business partners after making anti-Semitic remarks, and white supremacist Nick Fuentes.
“President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table, and I think he should apologize for it,” Pence said in an interview with Leland Vittert, an anchor with NewsNation, which aired on Monday.
Pence said in the interview he does not believe Trump is anti-Semitic, a racist or a bigot and would not have agreed to be his vice president if he were.
However, Pence, who could challenge Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, said his former boss “demonstrated profoundly poor judgment.”
Asked at an event at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs if he would run for president in 2024, Pence said he and his family would discuss his future when they gather in his home state of Indiana over the Christmas holidays.
A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Trump has said in posts on his Truth Social platform that he agreed to meet with Ye to give him business advice and that he did not know Fuentes, who accompanied the rapper.
Adidas AG and other companies have cut ties with Ye in recent weeks after he made a series of anti-Semitic and racist remarks, and Fuentes is one of the most prominent young white nationalist leaders in the US.
The New York Times reported that Fuentes is a Holocaust denier who, in his podcast, recently called for the military to be sent into black neighborhoods and demanded that Jews leave the country.
The visit drew criticism from a White House spokesman who said anti-Semitism has no place in America, “including at Mar-a-Lago.”
David Friedman, who was Trump’s ambassador to Israel, called the visit by West and Fuentes “unacceptable,” adding “you are better than this.”
Before Pence’s comments, many of Trump’s potential 2024 rivals and top Republicans were silent about the dinner. However, other Trump critics in the Republican Party on Monday also denounced the dinner.
“President Trump hosting racist antisemites for dinner encourages other racist antisemites,” said US Senator Bill Cassidy, one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump at his second impeachment trial. “These attitudes are immoral and should not be entertained. This is not the Republican Party.”
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