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GOP Senator's Excuse For Trump's Dinner With White Supremacist Sparks Immediate Backlash

Republican Senator Thom Tillis tried to blame Trump's meeting with Nick Fuentes on Trump's staff.

Thom Tillis; Donald Trump
Michael Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images; Joe Raedle/Getty Images

North Carolina Republican U.S. Senator Thom Tillis was harshly criticized after he attempted to blame former Republican President Donald Trump's staff for setting up his meeting with an avowed White supremacist at his Mar-a-Lago estate and resort club.

Trump has faced backlash in recent days for meeting with known white nationalist, white supremacist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, who has been cited by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for his hateful rhetoric and previously advocated for "something like Taliban rule in America."

Trump insisted he didn't know who Fuentes was even though sources told reporters Trump openly praised Fuentes during a dinner Fuentes attended as the guest of rapper Ye, who recently announced a 2024 presidential bid on the Republican ticket.

But according to Tillis, Trump isn't to blame for the meeting. As NBC senior national political reporter Sahil Kapur reported, Tillis said "whoever let him in the room should be fired.”

You can see Kapur's post below.

But there is no indication that Trump didn't know who Fuentes was.

According to Ye, Trump was "very impressed" with Fuentes—who referred to Trump as a personal "hero"—and The New York Times reported that Trump declared he liked Fuentes, even saying that Fuentes "gets me."

Fuentes, for his part, said on his podcast he "had a very interesting dinner" with Ye and Trump, though he added he feels "a little bit embarrassed in a certain sense because, you know, this has become a little bit of a scandal for President Trump."

The meeting has been condemned by politicians on both sides of the aisle, and even prominent Trumpists in the GOP have said it was "ridiculous" for Trump to meet with Fuentes because in doing so, he "legitimized" Fuentes' "disturbing" views.

No one is buying Tillis' excuse for Trump's actions and he was criticized for failing to hold Trump himself accountable.

Tillis himself has previously come under fire for racist commentary, particularly his remark during a 2012 interview with Carolina Business Review that "the traditional population of North Carolina is more or less stable," excluding Black North Carolinians at a time when the Republican Party faced pressure to reach out to communities of color.

Tillis faced criticism in 2020 for continuing to run an ad featuring a restaurant owner at the center of a federal lawsuit over racial bias. He did not respond to requests for comment on the story.

That same year, he courted controversy after he suggested that North Carolina’s Hispanic population may be adversely impacted by COVID-19 because they don't wear masks or practice social distancing despite admitting that he is neither a "scientist" nor a "statistician."