Newt Gingrich, a finalist on Donald Trump’s vice presidential shortlist, flew to Indianapolis to meet with Trump on a private jet provided by Fox News host Sean Hannity, two sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN.
The Fox News host flew the former House speaker to Indianapolis early Wednesday morning to meet with the presumptive Republican nominee as he holds late-stage meetings with his VP finalists, the sources said.
Hannity addressed the matter on his Twitter account late Wednesday night.
“I have known Newt Gingrich since 1990 (I emceed his event the night the became Speaker of the House in 1994) he has been a long term, very dear friend of mine and is a private citizen. Whatever favors I do for my friends is my business,” he wrote.
A Fox News spokesperson replied to initial inquiries regarding the flight, but did not respond when asked if Hannity had paid for or arranged the flight. Gingrich did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gingrich served as a paid Fox News contributor until Tuesday night, when the network suspended ties with him “due to the intense media speculation” about his “potential selection as Donald Trump’s vice presidential candidate.”
Hannity, who has publicly backed Trump, said Tuesday night that he was backing Gingrich for VP.
“I wouldn’t be happy with anyone but Newt,” he said on his Fox News show.
While flying Gingrich to Indianapolis may be viewed as a conflict of interest, Hannity has long argued that he is not subject to journalistic ethics because he is a pundit. He has long spoken freely and passionately about his political biases, including his admiration for Trump.
“I’m not a journalist, I’m a talk show host,” he has said. “The media has accused me of going soft in interviews on Republicans,” he said on his radio show earlier this year. “I plead guilty. I absolutely plead guilty. You know why? Because I want one of them to win.”
The Trump-Gingrich meeting came at the request of the former speaker. Trump has also held meetings and phone calls about the VP post with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.
During this time, Trump has also consulted with both Roger Ailes, the chairman and CEO of Fox News, and Rupert Murdoch, the 21st Century Fox executive co-chairman.