White House on Trump dinner with white supremacist: No place for these 'vile forces' in U.S.

White House Exterior in Washington
The exterior of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., November 19, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger

WASHINGTON, Nov 28 (Reuters) - The White House on Monday joined some Republicans in criticizing former U.S. President Donald Trump for dining with white supremacist Nick Fuentes, saying there is no place in America for "vile forces" such as racism, bigotry and anti-Semitism.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters she would not comment on every move by Trump, who this month said he would run for president again, but it was critical to condemn such behavior in "really absolute terms."

"There is just no place for these types of vile forces in our society," she told reporters. "When you say things like this, when you do not speak out against these kinds of poisonous and dangerous kind of remarks ... that is also incredibly dangerous within itself."

Trump has said the encounter at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida was inadvertent, but it drew rare criticism from fellow Republicans, including Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson, who accused Trump of empowering extremism.

Trump earlier this month said he plans to seek the Republican nomination to run for the White House again in 2024, though he could face challengers to that bid, including from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his former vice president Mike Pence.

"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," Pence told NewsNation on Monday.

Fuentes has been described as a white supremacist by the U.S. Justice Department and he attended the Jan. 6, 2021, rally in Washington that preceded the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters. The Anti-Defamation League said Fuentes once "'jokingly' denied the Holocaust and compared Jews burnt in concentration camps to cookies in an oven.'"

The White House had already slammed Trump on Sunday, saying in a statement that "bigotry, hate, and antisemitism have absolutely no place in America - including at Mar-A-Lago."

But Jean-Pierre went further, underscoring the responsibility of all to speak out against Holocaust deniers and others espousing such attitudes.

"We should all be condemning this, and we should be very clear - very clear - and say it in really absolute clear terms," she said.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; additional reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Mark Porter and Stephen Coates

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.