In the report that led to Steve King’s rebuke Tuesday from the US House, New York Times reporter Trip Gabriel explored the ties between the white supremacist congressman and President Trump, focusing specifically on immigration. “Early in Mr. Trump’s term, the president invited Mr. King — who was long snubbed by establishment Republicans like the former House speaker John A. Boehner — to the Oval Office,” Gabriel wrote. “There, the president boasted of having raised more money for the congressman’s campaigns than anyone else, including during a 2014 Iowa visit, Mr. King recalled in an interview with The Times.”
That’s far from true, but in October 2014, Trump did travel to Iowa to campaign for King. According to campaign finance records the campaign filed with the Federal Election Commission, Trump gave to the congressman three times that year, including a $1,000 contribution in March and two more in October for $1,000 and $2,000. Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., gave an additional $2,600 in October. All four donations mention The Trump Organization as the father and son’s employer and list an address of 725 Fifth Ave. in New York — the location of Trump Tower, where the now-president put the wheels in motion for his eventual 2016 campaign.
“I market-tested your immigration policy for 14 years, and that ought to be worth something,” King told Trump when the president invited him to the Oval Office early in his term, according to his recollection to Gabriel. During his trip to Iowa in 2014, Trump praised King as a “special guy, a smart person, with really the right views on almost everything.”
When reporters asked Trump Monday about King’s more controversial comments to Gabriel (“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”), the president claimed he hadn’t been paying attention, saying, “I haven’t been following it. I really haven’t been following it.”
Since lawmakers in both the Democratic and Republican parties condemned King, several journalists have raised questions about why his views were now finally being condemned, but not Trump’s, who has taken similar far-right policy positions and has connections of his own to racists.
As Adam Serwer explained at the Atlantic: “The president has defended white nationalists; sought to exploit the census to dilute the political power of minority voters, described immigration as an infestation, warning that it was ‘changing the culture of Europe;’ derided black and Latino immigrants as coming from ‘shithole countries,’ while expressing a preference for immigrants from places like ‘Norway;’ and generally portrayed non-white immigrants as little more than rapists, drug dealers, and murderers at every opportunity.”
On Twitter, both King and Trump have shared content from Jason Bergkamp, a Dutch white supremacist who’s praised Hitler and once shared an anti-Semitic meme of Trump dressed as a Nazi gassing Hillary Clinton, and his website Defend Europa. Trump and King were also major promoters of the racist birther conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
Correction: This article previously misstated when King said he told Trump, “I market-tested your immigration policy for 14 years, and that ought to be worth something.” It was during a visit to the Oval Office after Trump became president, not when he visited Iowa in 2014.