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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 John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump 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 AxneIowa losses underscore Democrats' struggles with attracting rural voters Democrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus On The Money: Powell says 'concerning' rise in COVID-19 cases could hinder economic recovery | House Democrats withdraw appeal in case over Trump's New York tax returns | Initial jobless claims dip to 751,000 MORE's (D-Iowa) office, asserting the invitation was only to attend Trump’s remarks at the facility and was never withdrawn.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"Congresswoman Axne was invited to attend the President’s remarks in Council Bluffs today, and such invite was never rescinded," a senior White House official said.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at the last minute that political theater was more important than working together for the benefit of all Iowans and rescinded the invitation to the tour," Madeleine Russak, a spokeswoman for Axne, said in a statement to The Hill.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 ErnstThe Memo: Trump plows ahead with efforts to overturn election More conservatives break with Trump over election claims Peggy Noonan: 'Bogus dispute' by Trump 'doing real damage' MORE (Iowa) and Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerTech CEOs clash with lawmakers in contentious hearing Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska GOP senators pan debate: 'S---show,' 'awful,' 'embarrassment' 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.