- Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa was stripped from his committee assignments on Monday night after his controversial remarks on white supremacy drew backlash from lawmakers in both parties.
- King’s comments, published in a New York Times report on Thursday drew swift backlash after he questioned why “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” were considered controversial.
- Following his removal from the committee assignments, King described the move as a “a political decision that ignores the truth.”
- King disputed The Times’ reporting, which he called “completely mischaracterized.”
Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa was stripped from his committee assignments on Monday night after his controversial remarks on whether white supremacy was offensive drew backlash from lawmakers in both parties.
King, who was on the Agriculture and Judiciary committees, was removed from the positions by the Republican Steering Committee, the congressional group that assigns lawmakers their committee roles, Republican officials said to The New York Times.
King’s comments from a New York Times report published Thursday drew swift backlash after he questioned why “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” were considered controversial. King also added that he supported immigrants who legally came to the US and eventually assimilated to the “culture of America.”
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization – how did that language become offensive?” King said, according to the Times report. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
Following the publication of the report, King issued as statement calling himself a nationalist, and saying that although he supported “western civilization’s values,” said he did not condone “white nationalism and white supremacy.”
“Today, the New York Times is suggesting that I am an advocate for white nationalism and white supremacy,” King said in a statement on Thursday. “I want to make one thing abundantly clear; I reject those labels and the evil ideology that they define. Further, I condemn anyone that supports this evil and bigoted ideology which saw in its ultimate expression the systematic murder of 6 million innocent Jewish lives.”
But his comments caught the attention of his fellow Republican lawmakers throughout the weekend, including that of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
“There is no place in the Republican Party, the Congress or the country for an ideology of racial supremacy of any kind,” McConnell said in a statement. “I have no tolerance for such positions and those who espouse these views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. Rep. King’s statements are unwelcome and unworthy of his elected position.”
On Sunday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ensured that “action will be taken,” against King after having “a serious conversation.”
“I will not stand back as a leader of this party, believing in this nation that all are created equal, that that stands or continues to stand and has any role with us,” McCarthy said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Following his removal from the committee assignments, King described the move as a “a political decision that ignores the truth.” King disputed The Times’ reporting, which he called “completely mischaracterized.”
“We discussed the worn out label ‘racist’ and my observation that other slanderous labels have been increasingly assigned to Conservatives by the Left, who injected into our current political dialogue such terms as Nazi, Fascist, ‘White Nationalist, White Supremacist, – Western Civilization, how did THAT language become offensive?[sic]'” King said of his interview with The Times in a statement released on Monday.
“When I used the word ‘THAT,’ it was in reference ONLY to Western Civilization and NOT to any previously stated evil ideology ALL of which I have denounced,” King added. “My record as a vocal advocate for Western Civilization is nearly as full as my record in defense of Freedom of Speech.”
King, who has a documented history of making contentious remarks on race, faces the threat of censure from the Democratic-controlled House. Aside from his rhetoric, King has also attracted criticism for other controversial acts, including the display of a Confederate battle flag at his desk.
King has also been no stranger to the possibility of facing the congressional rebuke. In 2018, King’s previous remarks were described as “antisemitic and offensive not just to the Jewish community, but to all Americans” by the Anti-Defamation League, and some (but not all) Republicans withdrew their support during the midterm elections.