House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy: Trump is on Putin’s payroll
What happens in DC doesn’t stay in DC. And what’s said behind closed doors — even among the closest of colleagues — can come back to bite you in the ass. Kevin McCarthy is about to learn that lesson the hard way. The Washington Post reports that on June 15, 2016, the House Majority Leader told a room full of people what he really thought about the then-aspiring POTUS — namely, that he is Putin’s puppet:
A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016 exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.
When some of the people in the room chuckled at McCarthy’s comment, he made it clear that he wasn’t kidding: “Swear to God.” But Ryan, flexing both his political and P90X muscles, wasn’t having it; he told the room that this private conversation needed to remain private, saying: “No leaks… This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
(As usual, Paul Ryan ruins all the fun.)
The (again, recorded) conversation in question took place the day after WaPo broke the news that Russia had hacked the DNC’s computers. So the politicians in the room had every reason to question what might be going on. Some, like Evan McMullin — the House Republican Conference’s policy director at the time — copped to it when asked about the conversation. “It’s true that Majority Leader McCarthy said that he thought candidate Trump was on the Kremlin’s payroll,” McMullin told WaPo. “Speaker Ryan was concerned about that leaking.”
As for McCarthy and Ryan?
When initially asked to comment on the exchange, Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Ryan, said: “That never happened,” and Matt Sparks, a spokesman for McCarthy, said: “The idea that McCarthy would assert this is absurd and false.”
After being told that The Post would cite a recording of the exchange, Buck, speaking for the GOP House leadership, said: “This entire year-old exchange was clearly an attempt at humor. No one believed the majority leader was seriously asserting that Donald Trump or any of our members were being paid by the Russians. What’s more, the speaker and leadership team have repeatedly spoken out against Russia’s interference in our election, and the House continues to investigate that activity.”
“This was a failed attempt at humor,” Sparks said.
Yeah, because if there’s one thing McCarthy and Ryan are known for, it’s their wacky senses of humor.