Rep. Steve King (R-IA) offered a bizarre, flip-flopping defense of Donald Trump’s newly-appointed chief strategist Steve Bannon in an interview Wednesday morning.
MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle asked King about the refusal of prominent Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to speak out in support Trump’s appointment of Bannon. King argued that McConnell should get to know Bannon better.
“I think Mitch McConnell should get to know Steve Bannon as I do, and I’ve known Steve Bannon for years,” King said.
He praised Bannon as a “brilliant strategist” and “dedicated patriot,” and decried what he said were “false accusations” made against the Breitbart News chairman, who took a leave of absence from the site to serve as Trump’s campaign CEO.
“I think once we get down to the truth, Mitch McConnell will come around,” King said.
“Just a few minutes ago I heard Steve Bannon on tape say ‘liberal dykes,'” Ruhle said, referring to a 2011 interview where Bannon used the homophobic term to describe liberal women. “You okay with that?”
“I hadn’t heard that tape and I don’t know what the context of it would be in,” King replied. “So no, I wouldn’t say I was either okay with it or not okay with it.”
He cited Trump’s past comments, apparently referring to the leaked 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording where Trump discussed grabbing women by the genitals. King said that voters looked at Trump’s remarks “far more pragmatically,” and recommended people do the same for Bannon.
King expressed interest in serving as the President-elect’s head of the Department of Homeland Security and said that Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration was an “interesting proposal” that he had not previously discussed.
“When we bring people into this country, we ought to have a database on who they are,” he said. “We ought to be able to track them.”
“So a Muslim registry, is that something you’d like?” Ruhle asked.
“Well, I don’t know whether that’s the legacy or not, but an immigration policy for America should be designed to enhance the economic, the social and the cultural well-being of the United States,” King replied.
He went on to praise “American values” as a source of prosperity and suggested that immigrants should “earn their own prosperity” by promoting American values in their countries of origin.
Asked to explain what he meant by “American values,” King suggested that his ideal immigration policy would prioritize “assimilation” and “cultural continuity.”
“Couldn’t Native Americans have said that?” Ruhle asked, incredulous. “This is a country of immigrants.”
“Name a country that’s not a country of immigrants,” King fired back. “These are our values that are here.”
“Greece is not a country of immigrants,” Ruhle said.
King went off on a rambling tangent about the apparent role of Turkish occupation in diluting the genetic purity of native occupants of Greece.
“Well, it was in Greece not that long ago and I asked why, when they were digging up the statues that had their hair painted blond, why I don’t see very many blond Greeks,” King said. “The guide looked at me and said, ‘That’s what 400 years of Turkish occupation will do to you.'”
Watch part of the exchange below: