Pence Calls on Trump to Apologize for Hosting Antisemites Kanye West and Nick Fuentes

Former VP becomes most senior Republican to explicitly call on Trump to disavow his dinner guests and antisemitism in general

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
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Former Vice President Mike Pence in California in November.
Former Vice President Mike Pence in California in November.Credit: Mark J. Terrill /AP
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels

WASHINGTON - Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Monday called on Donald Trump to apologize for hosting avowed antisemites Kanye West and Nick Fuentes at his Mar-A-Lago estate.

Pence is the most senior Republican official, and the first potential 2024 presidential candidate, to explicitly call on Trump to disavow his dinner guests and antisemitism at large.

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"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 told NewsNation's Leland Vittert. The former VP has attempted to maintain a balance between highlighting his role in defending the 2020 election results on January 6 while maintaining ownership over the Trump administration's unqualified support for Israel.

"With that being said, I don'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," Pence added. "People often forget that the president's daughter converted to Judaism, his son-in-law is a devout Jew, his grandchildren are Jewish. The broad brush of attack that the media leveled at him... I think the president demonstrated profoundly poor judgement in giving those individuals a seat at the table. He should apologize for it and denounce them without qualification."

At last week's Republican Jewish Coalition confab in Las Vegas, Pence praised Trump's role in pursuing these policies, while avoiding directly criticizing the man with whom he had a falling out of historic proportions.

Trump's 2024 campaign has also attempted to highlight his Israel-related moves — such as moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem in May 2018, unilaterally withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal that same month and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights in 2019 — as a defense against criticism of the meeting and calls for him to apologize.

While being critical of Trump’s conduct in the administration’s final days, Pence has defended Trump against charges of antisemitism. In his new book, “So Help Me God,” he cited the conversion to Judaism of Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his love of his Jewish grandchildren.

Pence's pitch to Jewish Republicans in Vegas, however, implicitly targeted Trump without mentioning him by name. "We must do more than criticize and complain. Our party may be the last line of defense for the Constitution," he said, adding that "we must do as Proverbs says, we must be the leaders who keep our oath even when it hurts."

Trump has reportedly refused to disavow Fuentes, fearing that he would alienate a section of his base. While lawmakers from both American parties, organizations, and Jewish leaders strongly denounced the former U.S. president for hosting avowed antisemites, the majority of the Republican party chose a more opportunistic course of action: either criticizing the meeting's occurrence without mentioning Trump by name, dismissing it as politically unwise, or remaining completely silent.

“Nick Fuentes is among the most prominent and unapologetic antisemites in the country,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told the New York Times last week. “He’s a vicious bigot and known Holocaust denier who has been condemned by leading figures from both political parties here, including the RJC."

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