GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas defended his friend and colleague Rep. Steve King on Wednesday, suggesting that King’s comments to The New York Times about “white supremacy,” “white nationalism” and “Western civilization” were misconstrued by the media and lawmakers from both parties.
Republican leaders in the House decided earlier in the week to bar King from serving on any House committees, but the House voted Wednesday to refer a censure resolution to the House Ethics Committee instead of censuring him directly.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King asked in an interview with the Times’ editorial board last week.
On Tuesday, Gohmert ceded some of his floor time for King to clarify those comments. King did not apologize but suggested that the Times took his words out of context.
Watch: Steve King urges colleagues to vote for measure his comments caused
Gohmert said the Iowa Republican raised a “fair question.”
“He explained what he was saying,” Gohmert told the Tyler Morning Telegraph of King’s speech on the House floor clarifying his comments. “He was talking about Western civilization, that, ‘When did Western civilization become a negative?’ And that’s a fair question. When did Western civilization become a negative?”
In addition to asking when “Western civilization” was given a negative connotation, King also openly questioned in his interview with The New York Times when “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” became offensive terms.
“We have the only country that I’m aware of that would shed its most valuable treasure — American blood — for freedom, not for hegemony, just for freedom,” Gohmert said. “There’s never been a group that’s been more philanthropic than American citizens. That was a fair question — when did Western civilization become a negative?”
Gohmert said King has been treated unfairly after he was barred from committees and the House voted for a resolution condemning white supremacy and white nationalism intended as a rebuke to King.
King himself voted in favor of that resolution.
“They start piling on with innuendo and it was just grossly unfair, but Steve and everybody I hear all agree. We condemn white supremacy. There is no place for that. And I still yearn for the day when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream becomes reality,” Gohmert said.
In his interview Wednesday, Gohmert appeared especially upset with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for not giving King “due process” before kicking him off committees and denouncing his comments.
“He was not given due process,” Gohmert said. “And, in fact, if our minority leader McCarthy had gotten the same lack of due process against him previously, I can assure you he would not have been majority leader and he would not now be minority leader.”
“[McCarthy] took the word of the New York Times reporter,” Gohmert said, suggesting that the publication may have lied when it quoted King.