McCarthy has said Republicans should avoid Fuentes, who is widely known as a white supremacist and anti-semite. He has not condemned Trump.
Rep. Liz Cheney is publicly calling on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to criticize former President Donald Trump for his pre-Thanksgiving dinner with Nick Fuentes, who is widely known as a white supremacist and anti-semitic Holocaust denier.
Cheney, who lost her Wyoming primary to a Trump-backed challenger, described Fuentes as a "neo-Nazi" in a tweet directed at McCarthy on Tuesday, a week after Trump's meeting at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida with the 24-year-old Fuentes and Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West.
"Hey @GOPLeader - where is your condemnation of Donald Trump for meeting with neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes, the pro-Putin leader of the America First Political Action Conference?" she tweeted. "I know you want to be Speaker, but are you willing to be completely amoral?"
McCarthy won the votes of a majority of his caucus to become the GOP's nominee for speaker when Republicans take control of the House next Congress, but he still needs to win 218 votes in the lower chamber in January. If he wins, Democrats expect him to have a tough time controling his far-right ranks — including some who have also met with Fuentes or appeared at the America First Political Action Conference that he founded.
When Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona spoke at the conference this year, McCarthy called their attendance "unacceptable."
"For me it was appalling and wrong," McCarthy told Punchbowl in February. "And there's no place in our party for any of this. The party should not be associated any time any place with somebody who is anti-Semitic."
But McCarthy remained silent for several days about Trump's visit with Fuentes, even as other GOP leaders and some potential 2024 rivals — including former Vice President Mike Pence — have condemned the actions by the former president, who is again running for president in 2024.
McCarthy on Tuesday condemned Fuentes' ideology when reporters asked about the meeting, but he did not denounce Trump. "The president didn't know who he was," McCarthy said. He also falsely claimed that Trump condemned Fuentes "four times."
McCarthy later said, "The president can have meetings with who he wants; I don't think anybody, though, should have a meeting with Nick Fuentes," according to The New York Times.
A spokesperson for McCarthy did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
Fuentes is a 2020 election denier who helped organize Stop the Steal protests ahead of the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, and the House committee investigating the riot has subpoenaed him as part of the probe. Trump has claimed that he did not know who Fuentes was.
Cheney, the top Republican on the House January 6 committee, blasted Greene and Trump in an earlier tweet for "hanging around with this anti-Semitic, pro-Putin, white supremacist. This isn't complicated. It's indefensible."
The Anti-Defamation League describes Fuentes as a white supremacist, anti-semite, and 2020 election-denier "who seeks to forge a white nationalist alternative to the mainstream GOP."
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow played a video montage, compiled by the Right Wing Watch project, with clips of Fuentes that include him calling for a dictatorship to "force the people to believe what we believe."
"The white people got to make the right decision, and then Trump's got to get in there and never leave," he said at one point. "It's time to shut up, elect Trump one more time and then stop having elections."