A sitting member of Congress appeared at a white nationalist convention Friday night, marking new GOP support for the racist movement. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) spoke in Orlando, Florida, at the America First Political Action conference, a far-right event meant to mimic the establishment Republican Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
After Gosar’s speech, AFPAC organizer Nick Fuentes, who marched in the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and was outside the Capitol with his supporters during the Jan. 6 riot, took the podium that warned that “white people are done being bullied.” Fuentes praised the fatal riot as “awesome,” describing it as “light-hearted mischief.” He also mocked Gosar’s colleague, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), for needing a wheelchair, saying Cawthorn couldn’t “stand up” for his constituents.
“‘I’m gonna take a stand?’” Fuentes said. “How? How are you gonna do that?”
Gosar was joined at the event by former Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who lost his congressional committee seats after defending white nationalism.
Gosar attempted to distance himself from the white nationalist event Saturday morning at a panel on CPAC. Without mentioning what he was specifically referring to, Gosar said, “I want to tell you—I denounce when we talk about white racism. That’s not appropriate.”
The FBI is reportedly investigating a large bitcoin payment Fuentes and other far-right figures received ahead of the riot. A former Fuentes associate has claimed the white nationalist leader, who has also attempted to downplay the number of Jewish people who died in the Holocaust by comparing them to cookies made by Cookie Monster, has had his bank accounts frozen by federal authorities in the aftermath of the riot.