“President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an antisemite and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table, and I think he should apologize for it,” Pence said in an interview with NewsNation. “And he should denounce those individuals and their hateful rhetoric without qualification.”
Pence then defended his tenure as Trump’s second in command, arguing that while Trump had shown “profoundly poor judgement” in “giving those individuals a seat at the table,” he doesn’t “believe Donald Trump is an antisemite.”
“I don’t believe he’s a racist or a bigot. I would not have been his vice president if he was.”
Over the weekend, Trump confirmed he had dined last week with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, and Fuentes, though claimed he didn’t know who Fuentes was. Trump has since faced furious backlash, including rare rebukes from some Republicans, and has tried to distance himself from both figures. According to Trump, the dinner was supposed to be with Ye, who brought Fuentes as his guest.
Fuentes, who is vocal about his racist and antisemitic views, has denied the Holocaust happened and attended the “Unite the Right” neo-Nazi rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Ye was dropped by most of his professional partners and suspended from social media platforms last month after making a string of antisemitic comments.
Ye claimed after the dinner that Trump was “really impressed” with Fuentes. Sources also told The New York Times and Axios that Trump praised Fuentes at the dinner and at one point said, “he gets me.”
Tensions between Trump and Pence have been high since the U.S. Capitol riot, when Trump’s supporters chanted “Hang Mike Pence” because he wouldn’t help Trump try to overturn the result of the 2020 election.
Pence, who is rumored to be considering a 2024 run for president, said voters are “looking for new leadership” after the disappointing midterm election results for Republicans, particularly candidates backed by Trump.
Trump announced his campaign earlier this month.