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Iowa Democrat calls foul on White House over Trump ethanol tour invite

An Iowa Democrat on Tuesday alleged she was disinvited from attending a tour of an ethanol plant with President TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner on Hannity touts Trump: 'He was a disruptor' Ivanka Trump doubles down on vaccine push with post celebrating second shot Conservative Club for Growth PAC comes out against Stefanik to replace Cheney MORE and other officials, accusing the White House of putting "political theater" ahead of bipartisanship.

But the White House disputed the account of Rep. Cindy AxneCindy AxneBusiness groups target moderate Democrats on Biden tax plans House Democrats hit Republicans on mobile billboard at GOP retreat Republicans take victory lap after Iowa Democrat drops challenge MORE's (D-Iowa) office, asserting the invitation was only to attend Trump’s remarks at the facility and was never withdrawn.

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"Congresswoman Axne was invited to attend the President’s remarks in Council Bluffs today, and such invite was never rescinded," a senior White House official said. "It’s unfortunate that she is choosing to spend her time in the D.C. swamp while the President shows true leadership and appreciation for our Nation’s agriculture community in Iowa.”

The fallout over the event was first reported by the Des Moines Register.

The Hill obtained correspondence between the two parties that showed Axne's office specifically asked if the congresswoman would be receiving an invitation to the president's ethanol plant tour in Council Bluffs. 

The White House later responded that Axne's office would receive an invite, though the invitation makes no explicit mention of the tour.

Axne's office sent out a news release on Monday saying she had accepted a White House invitation to join Trump on his tour of Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, an ethanol facility located in her home district. 

The congresswoman's office received a phone call after sending the advisory clarifying that they were not invited to join the president on his tour. 

"Unfortunately, the White House decided at the last minute that political theater was more important than working together for the benefit of all Iowans and rescinded the invitation to the tour," Madeleine Russak, a spokeswoman for Axne, said in a statement to The Hill. "It appears they are only allowing Republican elected officials to attend the tour, so Congresswoman Axne is now back in Washington.”

Russak told The Hill that the congresswoman flew back to the capital on Tuesday, and that she has requested an in-person meeting with Trump to discuss tariffs and ethanol policy that affects her constituents.

Axne's absence was apparent when Trump acknowledged several public officials who were in attendance during the event in Council Bluffs. Sens. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstConservative Club for Growth PAC comes out against Stefanik to replace Cheney A bipartisan effort to prevent the scourge of sexual assault in the armed forces Ernst defends Cheney, calls for GOP unity MORE (Iowa) and Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerMcCarthy and Biden haven't spoken since election Against mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations MORE (Neb.), Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, and Omaha, Neb., Mayor Jean Stothert were in attendance. All are Republicans.

Axne was first elected to represent Iowa's 3rd Congressional District last year when she defeated incumbent Rep. David YoungDavid Edmund YoungFirst-term Democrat presses for coronavirus relief agreement this year Axne wins reelection in Iowa Democrats lead in 3 of 4 Iowa House races: poll MORE (R-Iowa). Trump carried the district by 3.5 percentage points in 2016.