Fox News host Shepard Smith repeatedly pressed Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) Thursday for distributing a letter to his colleagues that called on those with "misdeeds" who were running for speaker to drop out of the race.
The letter came on the heels of rumors that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was having an affair with Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.). McCarthy announced earlier today that he would no longer seek the speakership. Ellmers flatly denied rumors of an affair.
"What do you know about Kevin McCarthy that I don't know?" Smith asked Jones to begin the interview.
“Well, I don’t know,” Jones 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.”
The congressman continued, "But I know one thing about this — Shepard, our country is in deep, deep trouble. We need to have leadership in the House where we can say, 'Look at that leader! He is a man of integrity.'"
Jones' answer didn't satisfy Smith who continued to press him.
“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 asked. “And down at the bottom in your own personal handwriting you wrote, ‘I believe this question is important to the integrity of the House.’”
"This doesn't sound like a man who is on a fishing expedition," the Fox News host added. "This sounds like a man who knows something he isn't talking about."
Jones dodged the question by saying he didn't want House leadership to be beholden to donors. Smith again pressed him.
"Congressman, no no — I apologize, but you've written something so serious that I think I have to ask the question again because you just didn't answer," Smith said.
"Now I have to know, what did you know? Because who writes such a thing in a vacuum? Who fishes in such a way?" the Fox News host asked.
“Well, Shep, this is the first time I’ve been on your show. You don’t know me. 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 anything other than I try to be a man of integrity," Jones replied.
"Oh sir, I have never questioned your integrity," Smith shot back. "What I have done is read your words of warning and asked why they were written."
Jones told Smith that he is welcome to read whatever he wants into it, but he has already provided an "honest answer."
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