White nationalist Nick Fuentes has associated with several MAGA stars who claim they don't know him.
Fuentes has spent time with Donald Trump, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar, among others.
GOP leaders like Kevin McCarthy and Mitt Romney have urged others to stay away from Fuentes.
Conservative firebrand Nick Fuentes has had dinner with, posed for pictures alongside, and welcomed on stage at least a half dozen Republicans since becoming a star of the white nationalist movement.
Interactions with the America First Foundation leader have also prompted GOP lawmakers to deny knowing who Fuentes is and what he stands for. 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." Fuentes, who has been similarly decried by the Department of Justice and Simon Weisenthal Center, also founded the far-right America First Political Action Conference in 2020 as an alternative to the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Embattled former President Donald Trump is currently trying to distance himself from Fuentes following a Thanksgiving holiday sit-down at Mar-a-Lago that included rapper Kanye West, now known as "Ye." The meeting blindsided Trump's 2024 campaign staff and rattled GOP leaders.
"I don't think it's a good idea for a leader that's setting an example for the country or the party to meet with [an] avowed racist or antisemite," outgoing Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told CNN on Sunday.
Here are the elected officials who've taken heat for entering Fuentes' orbit.
Former President Donald Trump
"He gets me," Trump reportedly said Tuesday as Fuentes flattered the former president's 2016 campaign and his in-your-face messaging.
A Stop the Steal rally attendee who's been subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the deadly siege at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, Fuentes also told Trump that he was part of the otherwise unflappable MAGA base that's disappointed by Trump's inaction on behalf of the insurrectionists charged in the riot.
Trump, who has floated pardoning Capitol rioters if he's elected again, blamed the standoffishness on advisors pushing him to be more "presidential," Axios reported.
Since then, Trump has sought to downplay the radioactive encounter, writing on his social media platform Truth Social that he "didn't know Nick Fuentes."
The attempted damage control hasn't satisfied Republicans who want the party to rid itself of the polarizing former president once and for all.
"It's incumbent upon the Republican establishment, what's left of it, to stamp this kind of element from within the GOP once and for all," former Rep. Charlie Dent told CNN over the weekend.
One-time Trump ally and possible 2024 presidential contender Chris Christie said the Fuentes meeting should be disqualifying. "This is just another example of an awful lack of judgment from Donald Trump, which, combined with his past poor judgments, make him an untenable general election candidate for the Republican Party in 2024," the former governor of New Jersey said on Friday.
Rep. Paul Gosar
The Arizona Republican has been heavily criticized for mingling with Fuentes.
Gosar spoke at an America First PAC event in 2021, denied being involved in a planned 2021 fundraiser that upset GOP leaders, and then sent a prerecorded message to a 2022 AFPAC event that was later blamed on a "miscommunication" with his congressional staff.
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah called Gosar and fellow AFPAC participant Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia "morons" for getting involved with Fuentes. "There's no place in either political party for this white nationalism or racism," the 2012 GOP presidential nominee told CNN in February, adding, "It's simply wrong."
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy chastised Gosar for the 2022 incident, calling it "appalling and wrong."
"The party should not be associated any time any place with somebody who is anti-Semitic," McCarthy said earlier this year.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene
The far-right conspiracy theorist from Georgia claimed she knew nothing about Fuentes or his views when she decided to speak at the AFPAC conference in February 2022.
"I'm not aligned with anything that may be controversial," Greene told CBS News in an interview a day after the conference. She attended the event to "address his very large following," describing them as "very young."
"It's a generation I'm extremely concerned about," she said. "I went to talk to them about America First policies and I talked to them about what's important for our country going forward."
When a reporter said Fuentes is a white nationalist, Greene responded, "I do not endorse those views."
Last week, Greene on Twitter appeared to address Fuentes' concerns about the January 6 defendants, saying anyone who claims Trump is doing nothing for them "is either lying, clueless, or wants to hurt him."
"I've been to a lot of rallies this year and I've heard him say he will pardon J6 defendants multiple times," tweeted Greene, who has visited the accused rioters in jail. "I have not heard any other potential 2024 presidential candidate say that yet."
Former Rep. Steve King
The polarizing Iowa Republican had already been punished for espousing white supremacist rhetoric before finding his way to Fuentes.
McCarthy stripped King of his committee assignments in 2019 following a troubling interview with The New York Times.
King, who lost his 2020 reelection bid after years of questionable behavior, said he felt like he was being targeted by a "political lynch mob."
Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin
McGeachin made a video appearance at the AFPAC 2022 in February and thanked those in attendance for "joining our efforts."
When later confronted about her appearance by a Boise news reporter, she said she didn't know Fuentes and never met him. She also blamed the media.
"The mainstream media, you do this to conservatives all the time, but you don't do it to yourself," she told a KTVB7 reporter. "That every time, any time there's any kind of affiliation with anybody at any time on any stage, that we are all guilty by association. And it's not, it's not appropriate."
The reporter later asked whether McGeachin would have said "yes" to the group if she had known who Fuentes was.
"Well, again, this movement is so much bigger than one individual. Who cares what Nick Fuentes has to say? Who cares?" she said. "There's thousands and thousands of young conservatives all across the country that are very concerned about what's happening to our country."
In a statement responding to calls for her resignation, McGeachin called "America First" policies "vital," but also said she doesn't support identity politics or other discriminatory views.
McGeachin, Idaho's first female lieutenant governor, was backed by Trump and beaten decisively in her primary challenge against the incumbent Gov. Brad Little. It was the first time since 1938 that a sitting governor had been challenged by a lieutenant governor of the same party, according to the Idaho Press.
McGeachin, who made "election integrity" part of her platform, is now facing scrutiny for issuing partisan messages in her official state office newsletter, at taxpayer expense, ahead of the November elections.
Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers
Rogers embraced Fuentes during her AFPAC speech as someone she truly respects, calling him the "most persecuted man in America."
"Nick, and the other patriots in attendance at AFPAC: please keep doing what you're doing," she said. "I admire you, and I so appreciate how you never give up. We need more strong Americans like you."
Rogers later posted an image of herself on her Gab and Telegram accounts, pictured with Fuentes and Gab founder Andrew Torba behind a dead rhinoceros branded with the Conservative Political Action Conference logo and a Jewish Star of David.
The Arizona Senate censured her for violent rhetoric, but did not address anti-Semitism or white nationalism in its motion, Insider's Bryan Metzger reported.
Rogers, who was endorsed by Trump, won reelection in November after prevailing against a GOP primary opponent who made Rogers' ties to Fuentes a key issue.
State Sen. Kelly Townsend, an ultra conservative who challenged Rogers, told Insider that she was "horrified" after watching a compilation video about Fuentes and she pleaded with Rogers to denounce him. Townsend also criticized Trump.
"If he's unwilling to speak out against Nick Fuentes, then why would I want an endorsement from somebody who can't do that?" she told Insider.