The White House played host Saturday to Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the controversial mens-only group called the Proud Boys whose members President Trump famously told to “stand back and standby.”
Mr. Tarrio shared photographs on the social media service Parler that showed him on the grounds of the White House, including one of him posing outside its entrance and another of its main portico.
“Last minute invite to an undisclosed location,” Mr. Tarrio posted on Parler where he shared the pictures. “I’m in awe. #Trump2020.”
The White House denied inviting Mr. Tarrio and said that he was on a public Christmas tour and did not meet with the president. Neither responded to messages requesting further information.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, was among prominent critics of the president to call him out as images spread on social media showing the Proud Boys leader at the White House.
“Disgusted and saddened to see @realDonaldTrump align himself and the presidency with the Proud Boys,” Mr. Nadler said on Twitter. “This is dangerous and must be condemned by all.”
Mr. Tarrio shared another post on Parler later Saturday that said he was among members of Latinos for Trump, an official component of the president’s reelection campaign, visiting the White House.
The visit occurred ahead of fellow Proud Boys — self-described western chauvinists — congregating in the nation’s capital to protest the president’s recent loss to Democratic rival Joseph R. Biden.
Similar demonstrations last month culminated in fights erupting between participants and counterprotesters, as well as police arresting at least 20 people and seizing multiple unregistered weapons.
Local activist groups and law enforcement alike were preparing for the possibility of further violence this weekend in anticipation Mr. Tarrio and other Proud Boys returning to Washington, D.C.
Indeed, Mr. Tarrio noted on social media earlier in the week that posters had recently been plastered on public spaces in the city that shows his face beneath the words: “NO PROUD BOYS IN D.C.”
Proud Boys have clashed with counterprotesters in cities before, and Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump each mentioned them by name during a presidential debate this fall when asked to condemn militia groups.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Mr. Trump said during the debate on Sept. 29.
Mr. Tarrio previously credited that mention with causing an explosion in new wannabe Proud Boys applying to join.
Upwards of 100 apparent Proud Boys — men distinguishable in part by donning the group’s colors, black and yellow — were among Trump fans protesting Saturday in D.C., according to reporters on hand.