As fallout from Donald Trump's meeting with the white supremacist Nick Fuentes continues, a far-right activist has claimed the meeting was a set-up, meant to "make Trump's life miserable".
NBC News reported that in an attempt to "send a message" to the former president, Milo Yiannopoulos, a rightwing provocateur and former Breitbart editor, helped arrange for Fuentes to travel to Mar-a-Lago in Florida for a dinner between Trump and the rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West.
Trump dined with Fuentes and Ye at his resort on 22 November. Since the meeting, Trump has been criticized by senior Republicans and by conservative Jewish leaders.
Trump said Ye was invited to dinner and "unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends … whom I knew nothing about". He has not condemned Fuentes and his views. Fuentes has been described by the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League as "among the most prominent and unapologetic antisemites in the country".
Speaking to NBC, Yiannopoulos said he came up with a plan for Fuentes to travel with Ye and hopefully gain access to the former president.
"I wanted to show Trump the kind of talent that he's missing out on by allowing his terrible handlers to dictate who he can and can't hang out with," Yiannopoulos said.
"I also wanted to send a message to Trump that he has systematically repeatedly neglected, ignored, abused the people who love him the most, the people who put him in office, and that kind of behavior comes back to bite you in the end."
Yiannopoulos was once a leading figure in the alt-right movement but he has been banned by most major social media networks and lost a book deal in 2017 after appearing to endorse paedophilia.
He told NBC he also arranged the meeting "just to make Trump's life miserable", because he was aware news of the dinner would leak.
Trump has engaged with racists in the past, including claiming there were "very fine people on both sides" of a white supremacist rally in Virginia which resulted in the death of a counter-protester.
Criticism for hosting Fuentes has come from senior Republicans including his former vice-president, Mike Pence, and the former New Jersey governor Chris Christie.
On Tuesday, Fuentes disputed Yiannapoulos's suggestion the dinner was an attempt to make Trump's life miserable.
"This is just not true at all," Fuentes said on the messaging app Telegram, below a screenshot from the NBC article. "My intention was not to hurt Trump by attending the dinner, that is fake news. I love Donald Trump."
Ye, who like Trump is running for president in 2024, said he used the dinner to ask Trump to be his vice-president, only for Trump to insult his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian.
"Trump started basically screaming at me at the table telling me I was going to lose," Ye said in a video since deleted from social media but transcribed by Newsweek. "I mean, has that ever worked for anyone in history? I'm like, 'Woah, woah hold on hold on Trump, you're talking to Ye.'"
Ye also said Trump was "really impressed" by Fuentes.
A source close to Trump told NBC the former president was left furious by the meeting.
"He's crazy. He can't beat me," Trump said of Ye, according to the source, who also said "Trump was totally blindsided" by Fuentes's presence, adding: "It was a set-up."
On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that Trump's campaign was "putting new protocols in place to ensure that those who meet with him are approved and fully vetted". Among those protocols, the AP said, citing unnamed sources, is a requirement that Trump is accompanied by a senior official at all times.