Trump poses for photograph with convicted mob boss, in a flashback to controversial dinner with white nationalist Nick Fuentes

Trump poses for photograph with convicted mob boss, in a flashback to controversial dinner with white nationalist Nick Fuentes
Donald Trump and Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino
Former President Donald Trump, left, and a file photo of Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino, right, in a composite image.AP Photo
  • Donald Trump was pictured with a man who is a convicted mob boss, per The Philadelphia Inquirer.

  • The former president was criticized for dining with white supremacist Nick Fuentes last November.

  • The ex mob boss, Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, said Trump wasn't aware of who he was.

Former President Donald Trump posed for a photo with Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, who was once a Philadelphia mob boss, earlier this month.

The photo, obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer, comes just months after a white nationalist visited Mar-a-Lago for dinner uninvited, supposedly prompting the Trump campaign to enact new protocols to vet people who want to meet him.

The grainy photo seems to cast doubt on whether those protocols have been effectively implemented.

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Trump, Merlino, and a third unidentified man are pictured in the photograph giving thumbs-ups while at the Trump International Golf Club West Palm Beach in Florida.

The photo was widely shared online on Monday, prompting questions as to whether Merlino and Trump knew each other.

"President Trump takes countless photos with people," a campaign spokesperson told The Inquirer. "That does not mean he knows every single person he comes in contact with."

The campaign, however, did not respond to questions from The Inquirer and Insider on whether Trump knew who Merlino was when they took the photo, or if he was aware of Merlino's criminal background at the time.

Merlino was reputedly the boss of the so-called Philly Mob, an Italian-American Mafia family. He has spent time in federal prison on racketeering, illegal gambling, and extortion charges.

Merlino told The Inquirer that Trump "had no idea" who he was, adding that he was just one of the many people waiting in line to take a photo with the former president.

Trump, who is running for president in 2024, received backlash after Nick Fuentes, a self-described white nationalist, turned up to dinner at Mar-a-Lago with Kanye West, who goes by Ye, late last year.

The incident reportedly led to his campaign introducing new rules to ensure that people who meet with him are approved and fully vetted, according to the Associated Press.

The new protocols are meant to ensure that a senior campaign official is present with Trump at all times, according to those familiar with the arrangements.

Read the original article on Business Insider