Mr. McCarthy’s unwillingness to criticize Mr. Trump, by contrast, reflected his reluctance to offer a full-throated condemnation of members of his party who have ties to right-wing extremists, particularly at a time when he is facing a revolt on his right flank that has imperiled his campaign to become speaker.
It was far from the first time Mr. McCarthy has struggled to address the extremism problem in the Republican ranks, especially around Mr. Fuentes, who marched at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 and outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He has also warned that the nation is losing “its white demographic core.”
In February, after Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona appeared at Mr. Fuentes’s annual white supremacist gathering, Mr. McCarthy issued a rare public rebuke of the pair, calling their behavior “appalling and wrong.”
“The party should not be associated any time, any place with somebody who is antisemitic,” Mr. McCarthy said at the time, calling Ms. Greene’s failure to leave the stage after Mr. Fuentes praised Adolf Hitler “unacceptable.”
Neither Ms. Greene nor Mr. Gosar received any punishment, and Ms. Greene has boasted that Mr. McCarthy, whom she is supporting for speaker, will give her a powerful role in the new Congress. Mr. Gosar had previously attended the America First conference as its keynote speaker and wrote to the F.B.I. on his official letterhead claiming that Mr. Fuentes had been placed on a no-fly list and protesting the alleged action.
Asked on Tuesday at the White House about the lawmakers in his conference with ties to Mr. Fuentes, including Ms. Greene, Mr. McCarthy said, “She denounced him.”
Ms. Greene had never publicly done so until Tuesday, when a “PBS NewsHour” reporter pointed out on Twitter that she had never issued any condemnation of Mr. Fuentes. Days after she spoke at Mr. Fuentes’s conference, she told CBS News: “I do not know Nick Fuentes. I have never heard him speak. I have never seen a video. I do not know what his views are, so I am not aligned with anything that is controversial.”