The day after Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., sent a letter to his colleagues asking any candidates with skeletons in their closet to withdraw their bid for House speaker, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., did exactly that.
He did it mere hours before the election he was expected to win.
Rumors had been floating around this week that McCarthy had an affair with Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., which spurred Republican lawmakers from the Texas delegation to hold a closed door meeting with the House majority leader this week, according to The Hill.
“What do you know about Kevin McCarthy I don’t know?” Fox News host Shepard Smith bluntly began his interview with Jones, Thursday.
“Well, I don’t know,” the congressman replied. “This was written primarily because I’ve been here 20 years, and I remember the night that [Newt Gingrich] stepped down, the next night Bob Livingston stepped down, and the chaos it put the Republican Party in.”
“So randomly you just wrote to the conference leader and the conference, asking ‘any candidates for Speaker of House, Majority Leader or Majority Whip to withdraw himself if there are misdeeds he has committed’?” Smith read from a copy of Jones’ letter. “And at the bottom in your own personal handwriting you wrote, ‘I believe this question is important to the integrity of the House.’”
Setting the letter aside, Smith continued.
“This doesn’t sound like a man who is on a fishing expedition. This sounds like man who knows something he’s not talking about. Doesn’t it? If you didn’t write this, wouldn’t you think that?”
Jones ignored the question.
“I would say I’m opposed to the way we finance campaigns up here, I am for a public finance in the campaigns,” he said, dodging the real issue. “I see the influence of money here in Washington all the time, and I want somebody in the Speaker’s chair that will not say ‘You come to our fundraiser, and we’ll pass your bill.’ That happens all the time.”
“You have written something so serious,” Smith said. “I have to ask the question again because you just didn’t answer. Since you wrote this, I feel like we all deserve an answer,” he said.
“What did you know? Because who writes such a thing in a vacuum? Who fishes in such a way?” Smith asked, while Jones continued to dodge the question.
“Well, Shep, this is the first time I’ve been on your show. You don’t know me,” Jones responded. “I will tell you this, if you ask any member of Congress in either party, ‘Do you think Walter Jones is a man of integrity?’ I would be very disappointed and surprised if anybody said other than I try to be a man of integrity.”
“Oh sir, I have never questioned your integrity. What I’ve done is read your words of warning and asked why they were written,” Smith said.
“Well anything you want to read into it, you’re welcome to read into it,” Jones said. “I gave you an honest answer, that’s all I can do.”
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