WASHINGTON – White nationalist Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, who met with former President Donald Trump on Tuesday at his Mar-a-Largo estate (taken there by the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, who is under fire for his own statements anti-Semite), grew up in the Chicago suburbs.
Trump, who launched a re-election bid a week before the Nov. 22 dinner, reportedly went on to say in statements that he didn’t know who Fuentes was. He never expressed any regrets about the meeting as the week went on.
The practical impact is that by dining with them, Trump has given West and Fuentes a gift: an elevated platform that the extremists — both with deep ties to Chicago — would otherwise not have.
West and Fuentes are from the Chicago area, with West living on the South Shore and southern suburbs as a youth.
While West’s Chicago roots and journey into extremism have made headlines, the Mar-a-Largo dinner with Trump is shining a spotlight on Fuentes, who has become a far-right extremist leader.
Fuentes, 24, is a 2016 graduate of Lyons Township High School and lived in La Grange Park when he attended school. He was interested in politics in high school—active on Model United Nations programs and hosting his own talk show on the student television station, according to school records.
The trail eventually led Fuentes, then a college student, to Charlottesville, Virginia, where he attended the far-right white nationalist Unite the Right rally in 2017, with protesters chanting anti-Semitic slogans.
Fuentes went on to found, in 2020, the America First Political Action Conference, a group he positioned to the right of the conservative right, specifically the Conservative Political Action Conference.
He is a critic of the more established Turning Point USA, a conservative student organization founded in 2012 by Charlie Kirk, a Wheeling High School graduate whose path to politics also began when he was in high school.
“Fuentes is among the most prominent and unrepentant anti-Semites out there,” David Goldenberg, director of the Midwest regional office of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Chicago Sun-Times Sunday.
“He is a fierce bigot. He was condemned across the political spectrum. … He IS a white supremacist who is really trying to forge a white nationalist alternative to the mainstream GOP,” Goldenberg said.
Records show Fuentes has an address in Berwyn, though that doesn’t mean he lives there. The ADL said in a report that on March 8, 2022, “Fuentes announced his plan to move from Chicago to Florida in the coming months.”
Some of Fuentes’ followers are part of the “Groyper” movement, defined by the ADL as a “loose network of alt-right figures who are vocal supporters of white supremacist and ‘America First’ podcaster” Fuentes. A Pennsylvania woman, connected to the “Groyper” movement, pleaded guilty this month to storming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol, where rioters they were trying to overturn the election of President Joe Biden.
Earlier this year, the Jan. 6 House committee subpoenaed Fuentes, who, the committee said, was “present on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6” and active in the “Stop the Steal” demonstrations leading up to the attack.
The ADL said in an analysis of Fuentes that it “seeks to carve out a space that deliberately and publicly challenges the mainstream conservative movement while doubling down on the central themes of the white supremacist movement. Fuentes and his followers at America First openly advocate closing the US borders to immigrants, opposing “liberal” values such as feminism and LGBTQ+ rights. Fuentes regards these social changes as the ‘bastardized Jewish subversion of the American creed’”.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka’s family is Jewish.
West Thursday posted a video on Twitter — Sunday night had 5.3 million views — where he talks about meeting Trump and how Trump was “really impressed” by Fuentes. West, who said he was considering running for president in 2024, said he asked Trump to be his vice president.
Top Republican leaders have been, by and large, silent about Trump’s meeting with West and Fuentes.
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” GOP Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson told anchor Dana Bash on Sunday, “I don’t think it’s a good idea for a leader who is setting an example for the country or the party to meet an openly racist or anti-Semite.
“And so it’s very worrying, and it shouldn’t be happening. And we need to avoid this kind of empowerment of extremes. And when you meet people, you empower. And that’s what you need to avoid. You want to decrease their strength, not enhance them. Stay away from them.
The two Republicans on the Jan. 6 committee investigating the attack and Trump’s role in it — Representatives Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney — criticized Trump during the meeting. “Trump stands with the David Duke of today’s weak and weak kids, Nick Fuentes,” Kinzinger said on Twitter. Posting above a video with Fuentes and Georgia GOP Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene speaking at an AFPAC event, Cheney wrote, “@RepMTG and now, @realDonaldTrump hanging out with this anti-Semitic, pro-Putin white supremacist. This isn’t complicated. It is indefensible.
David Friedman, Trump’s ambassador to Israel, was explicit in his Twitter post, telling Trump, “You are better than this. A social visit from an anti-Semite like Kanye West and human scum like Nick Fuentes is also unacceptable. I urge you to throw those bums out, disavow them, and relegate them to the dustbin of history where they belong.