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Steve King defends past comments on white supremacy, blasts NYT and GOP leaders in fiery floor speech

Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingRep. Gosar denounces 'white racism' after controversial appearance In Marjorie Taylor Greene, a glimpse of the future House votes to kick Greene off committees over embrace of conspiracy theories MORE (R-Iowa) defended his past controversial remarks on white nationalism during a fiery floor speech Thursday that included renewed attacks on The New York Times and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyBorder crisis creates new risks for Biden McCarthy sits for 'Green Eggs and Ham' reading: I 'still like' Dr. Seuss Chamber of Commerce clarifies stance on lawmakers who voted against election certification MORE (R-Calif.).

The Iowa Republican — who lost to a primary challenger in June — revisited his earlier allegations that the newspaper “misquoted” him in its January 2019 article where he questioned why words like “white nationalist, white supremacist, Western Civilization” have become offensive.

King on Thursday argued that his comments were not racist, and that he was attempting to make a point on the changing use of language in political discourse, adding that he stands by his comments that “western civilization is under assault.”

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“I'll say two years ago when this came down, people didn't understand what's happening. But today western civilization is under assault, and I have been 100 percent correct on this. I've been more correct on this than I thought I was going to be,” he said.

“I would just add that nobody in America ever sat in a class to learn about the merits of white nationalism or white supremacism, and the content of that quote makes it clear all the contemporaneous evidence supports what I've been saying," he added.

King also took issue with how his comments were punctuated, adding that there were "no tapes" of the interview, aiming much of his criticism at the Times reporter.

His remarks come after President TrumpDonald TrumpUS, South Korea reach agreement on cost-sharing for troops Graham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MORE's refusal to condemn white supremacists at Tuesday night's presidential debate, where he said the Proud Boys, a group known for their white nationalist pandering, should "stand back and stand by." After a firestorm of criticism, Trump said on Wednesday that the Proud Boys should "stand down."

During his floor speech, King also spouted an unfounded conspiracy theory that top Democrats and Democratic mega-donor George Soros “strategically decided we're going to launch white nationalism and white supremacy as weaponized terms and we'll use them against Republicans.”

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The Iowa Republican then directed his ire at McCarthy and House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyGOP senator defends Cheney, Murkowski after Trump rebuke Marjorie Taylor Greene's delay tactics frustrate GOP Paul Ryan to host fundraiser for Cheney amid GOP tensions MORE (R-Wyo.), saying they have a “sanctimonious attitude about what's right and what's wrong.” House GOP leaders called for King's removal from congressional committees and suggested he step down after publication of the Times article.

The House GOP Steering Committee opted to remove King from his committees. King's comments in the article also led to the House passing a resolution condemning white nationalism.

King argued on Thursday that McCarthy didn’t give him a sufficient amount of time to respond to the New York Times report and slammed him for not doing more to reinstate him to his former committee positions following the fallout.

"When you've got the pressure of a nation, the media pressure, the political politics that go on here, then they are not going to change their mind. There's too much narcissism involved for that. By the way, there is a significant amount of mendacity while we are talking about personal characteristics,” King said.

“Because Kevin McCarthy promised me that he would go to the Steering Committee and ask them to restore me to all of my committees. That happened April 19 of this year; I have the transcript of that phone call. And yet, when McCarthy was asked about that in a press conference, he denied it and made me out to be the liar," he said.

McCarthy has repeatedly denied that he promised King he would be reinstated.