After being lectured by a CNN correspondent over moving to expel Democrats from the Tennessee state legislature, Tennessee Republican Caucus Chair Rep. Jeremy Faison chair abruptly exited his interview, leaving CNN anchors bewildered.
Prior to his unexpected departure, CNN reporter Sara Sidner had disputed his claims that the two Democratic Party lawmakers the legislature expelled Thursday were “riling up” an angry pro-gun control crowd at the state capitol.
Sidner claimed the massive and angry crowd was already riled up and then accused the lawmaker of punishing the Democrat lawmakers and their voters, who she claimed are scared of gun violence.
The lecture from the reporter appeared to bother Faison, as he left the interview before CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins could ask him a question.
The tense exchange came after the Tennessee GOP-dominated House voted to expel Democratic Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson from the state legislature Thursday for their role in a protest calling for gun control following last week’s shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville.
A third Democrat lawmaker, Rep. Gloria Johnson, was nearly expelled, though she was spared by one vote.
During their interview, Sidner appeared to go to bat for the punished lawmakers and the throngs of gun control activists swarming the Tennessee capitol. She stated, “You mentioned that you thought that the representatives were riling up the crowd, and I can tell you from the reporters that were out there, the crowd was already riled up.”
After disputing Faison, Sidner alleged to the lawmaker that the crowd was “extremely upset that your legislature wasn’t trying to deal with the issue of keeping children safe in school but instead going after these two Democrats.”
Her sharp line of questioning continued: “And I wonder, sir, who are you punishing? Because yes, you have kicked out these two Democrats, but there are tens of thousands of constituents that are also being punished and don’t have any representation right now. What do you say to them?”
When Faison finally had a chance to respond, he rebutted her claim that the crowd was already riled up. He said, “I’d like you to go back and watch what took place today. They literally controlled the crowd. They controlled the protesters.”
The interview ended with the lawmaker thanking CNN and walking offscreen as Collins clamored to ask him one more question. He was gone before she could get to it.
Watch (the exchange between Sidner and Faison starts at 7:54):
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