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Rep. Steve King not allowed on Air Force One for Trump's trip to Iowa Tuesday

Posted at 7:08 AM, Jun 12, 2019

Rep. Steve King, the Iowa Republican who was stripped of his congressional committee assignments earlier this year, was not allowed to fly aboard Air Force One on Tuesday as President Donald Trump traveled to Iowa, two GOP officials say.

King, who represents the state's 4th District in Western Iowa, asked the White House to join the President's entourage, but administration officials rejected the request, two officials familiar with the matter told CNN.

Republican Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Deb Fischer of Nebraska joined Trump aboard Air Force One. Ernst had not been planning to travel with the President, citing her voting schedule, but ended up flying to Iowa with Trump.

King declined to comment about the snub, telling CNN on Wednesday morning that he had nothing to say about the matter.

Instead of cruising back to Washington on Air Force One, King buckled himself into seat 1A and sipped a cup of coffee on an American Airlines flight back to the nation's capital.

He attended the Republican Party of Iowa's fundraising dinner in West Des Moines on Tuesday evening. He faces a primary challenge in his re-election bid next year.

While King has a history of making incendiary remarks around race and immigration, King was removed from his committee assignments and rebuked by members of his own party after giving an interview with The New York Times in January in which he made racist comments. In the article, King, as part of a defense of what he said was the "culture of America," asked how certain terms had become controversial in modern discourse.

"White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?" he told the Times. "Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?"

King said on the House floor in January that he rejected the ideology of white nationalism and he maintains that his comments were misinterpreted. The House Republican Steering Committee removed King from his committee posts shortly after the comments were publicized in January.

Despite the controversy, King refused to step aside from his post in Congress and announced in February he'll run for re-election in 2020. He won his race in 2018 by 3.6 percentage points.