North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones says he doesn't know any deep, dark secrets on Senate Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy – he just wants to ensure any party leadership candidates don't have skeletons in their closets.
Jones sent a letter
on Tuesday to House Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers urging the conference to ask any candidate for speaker, majority leader or whip to withdraw if he has any "misdeeds" in his past that would embarrass the conference, the party or the House of Representatives.
"I've had the pleasure of serving the third district of North Carolina for the past 20 years in Congress. Some of the most difficult times have been when our Republican leaders or potential Republican leaders must step down because of skeletons in their closets," Jones said in a press release
on his website.
"We've seen it with former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Bob Livingston, who ran for speaker in 1998," he said. "Let's learn from the past and not go down that road again."
Jones was asked Thursday on Fox News Channel's "Shepard Smith Reporting"
if he wrote the letter because he had any inside information of McCarthy, who withdrew his name
for consideration on Thursday. Jones said he did not, and that the letter was meant only as guideline for all applicants for leadership.
Smith was skeptical, pointing out that Jones wrote in his own handwriting at the bottom of his own typewritten letter, "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," Smith said. "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 insisted he was writing only about leadership qualities in general and knows no dirt on McCarthy or anyone else.
"[W]ho writes such a thing in a vacuum? Who fishes in such a way?" Smith shot back.
"Well, Shep, this is the first time I've been on your show. You don't know me,'" Jones said. "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," Smith said. "What I've done is read your words of warning and asked why they were written."
"Well, anything you want to read into it, you're welcome to read into it," Jones responded. "I gave you an honest answer, that's all I can do."
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