Gosh, how do the Trumps keep "accidentally" hanging out with Hitler fanboys?

Eric Trump wants to hide it, but he's speaking alongside anti-semites at a QAnon-linked rally at a Trump resort

By Amanda Marcotte

Senior Writer

Published May 11, 2023 6:00AM (EDT)

Eric Trump, son of former US President Donald Trump on the tarmac at Aberdeen airport on the north-east coast of Scotland on May 1, 2023. (ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Eric Trump, son of former US President Donald Trump on the tarmac at Aberdeen airport on the north-east coast of Scotland on May 1, 2023. (ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Late last year, Donald Trump had dinner with a couple of Hitler fanboys, a dinner he was so honored to host that he greeted it with great pomp and made sure it was in full view of the regular guests in the dining room of Mar-a-Lago. One of the Hitler apologists was rapper Kanye West, whose recent turn to the far right appears related to his well-documented severe mental health issues. The other Hitler admirer, Nick Fuentes, is a well-known incel troll and the head of the fascist America First group. Trump's efforts to spin his dinner after the fact were limp even by his standards, saying he didn't know who Fuentes was, a claim roughly no one believed. Sadly, as Heather "Digby" Parton correctly predicted at Salon, none of this has made a dent in Trump's status in the GOP. If anything, Republican voters keep rallying to his side, predictably pleased that Nazi-snuggling has the liberal-triggering effect they crave. 

This likely answers the question posited by Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show Monday night: How is it that Trump's son, Eric Trump, and a number of other figures in the Trump orbit "are going ahead with" an event this weekend that prominently features Hitler-friendly speakers? As Maddow pointed out, both MSNBC and Media Matters have spent "months" highlighting this event, scheduled for May 12 and 13 at the Trump National Doral resort in Miami. But, after Trump's famous dinner with Hitler apologists, he and his people seem to have decided there's no political downside to being seen rubbing shoulders with the Mein Kampf crowd. 

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No doubt many will dismiss this characterization as an exaggeration, which is one way Trump gets away with this stuff. But no, the speakers for this ReAwaken America event, which was co-founded by former Trump aide and current QAnon celebrity Michael Flynn, really are that terrible. Podcaster Scott McKay told his audience last year, "Hitler was actually fighting the same people that we're trying to take down today," and blamed Jews for 9/11. Right wing commentator Charlie Ward posted a Hitler speech with the caption "Hitler was warning us about the ruling class" of "Freemasonry, Judaism, Communism, Globalism, Race Wars, NWO, the Cabal & the Bankers."

In neither case can these be waved off as a one-off (as if that would excuse it.) Media Matters has lengthy dossiers on both men, showing long histories of antisemitism, Holocaust denial, and championing Hitler as a brave truthteller. They are scheduled to speak alongside Eric Trump and his wife Lara Trump. The conference found, Flynn, has also promoted antisemitism and blamed Jewish victims for their own deaths in the Holocaust.

The tour isn't just about Hitler apologism, of course. As the Anti-Defamation League explains, ReAwaken America also features "prominent QAnon influencers, anti-vaxx activists, election fraud conspiracy theorists, Christian pastors, political candidates and elected officials." A real grab bag of the worst people in the country! 

For months, Eric Trump's strategy for dealing with this criticism has been to ignore it, confident that the same voters who are fine with his dad's dinner with white nationalists would not mind a dessert course of more Hitler praise and Holocaust denial. But after Maddow's segment Monday night, he suddenly got hurt fee-fees. He then made empty lawsuit threats, a favorite tool of his dad's, on Twitter. 

Note: She never said he was personally antisemitic. Just that he happily shares top billing with the Hitler fanboys that have been invited to speak at a hotel owned by his family. But no one has rejected the possibility that he's just a shameless opportunist who panders to conspiracy theorists and bigots for money and political expedience.

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Trump might be a little more fussy than usual about this because Maddow made a point to link this hateful far-right rhetoric to the shooting in Allen, Texas over the weekend. Before murdering 8 people at an outlet mall, Mauricio Garcia left a long social media trail documenting his neo-Nazi sympathies, including an SS tattoo. The widespread reporting of Garcia's white nationalist views caused a reflexively defensive reaction on MAGA social media. Mainly, they acted outraged that anyone would impugn the honor of Nazis by suggesting one of them could have shot up a shopping mall. 

Trumpist tweeter with 1.7 million followers "catturd" suggested the shooting was a "psyops" and sent gleeful winking gifs to journalists reporting the white nationalist views of the shooter. 

Twitter's purchaser and far-right troll Elon Musk spent the aftermath of the shooting promoting conspiracy theories meant to discredit the idea that the shooter was a fascist. 

Normal people, of course, do not feel defensive when someone points out that Nazis tend to be violent. But for the MAGA crowd, that accusation stings in an incredibly personal way. Unsurprising, given the Hitler apologism on their favorite online channels and featured at their conferences. With the heat turned up, it seems Eric Trump is also feeling a little worried that it might reflect badly on him, helping promote the careers of men who complain about how the Jews "helped engineer the takedown of Hitler" and, in doing so, "mandated the destruction of Germany." 

Mostly, however, the Trumps don't worry overmuch about being seen with Hiter apologists. Only when cleaning crews are still scrubbing the spilled guts of small children out of the sidewalk will you see this a temporary bout of concern that all this Nazi stuff might be a bad look.

The sad thing is that Eric and Lara Trump are right not to worry. As Maddow pointed out, this conference is not a secret and has been covered extensively by Media Matters for months. But it gets almost no pick-up in the mainstream media. The likely reason is bleak: Trump's sympathies for white nationalists is "old news." We all know that he won't lose support among Republican voters because of it. Since it won't affect polling, the horserace-obsessed press can't bring itself to care. 

It's this silence, however, that the Trumps count on in order to speak to their fascist, conspiracy theory-addled base while evading larger accountability in the mainstream discourse. That's why they get upset when one of these stories does run a chance of breaking through, either because a famous name like Kanye West is attached or there's a news hook like the Allen shooting. It suggests that they do worry that the Nazi talk could lose them support. Maybe not with the vast majority of potential Republican voters, but with enough of them on the margins to lose swing states. Otherwise, the Trumps wouldn't spin and threaten lawsuits the second one of these stories flirts with mainstream coverage. They're worried it could hurt them, which is why they want to keep the associations with Hitler fanboys in the shadows. 

By Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Marcotte is a senior politics writer at Salon and the author of "Troll Nation: How The Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set On Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself." Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMarcotte and sign up for her biweekly politics newsletter, Standing Room Only.

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