‘I think Putin pays Trump’ – Republican majority leader in 2016

The Washington Post is reporting this morning on a secret conversation by the Republican leadership in the House back in June of 2016, where Kevin McCarthy said he believed at the time that Putin was paying Trump:

WAPO – 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.

Before the conversation, McCarthy and Ryan had emerged from separate talks at the Capitol with Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladi­mir Groysman, who had described a Kremlin tactic of financing populist politicians to undercut Eastern European democratic institutions.

News had just broken the day before in The Washington Post that Russian government hackers had penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee, prompting McCarthy to shift the conversation from Russian meddling in Europe to events closer to home.

Some of the lawmakers laughed at McCarthy’s comment. Then McCarthy quickly added: “Swear to God.”

Ryan instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

The remarks remained secret for nearly a year.

Yeah, it’s probably because his remarks had no merit to them. It sounds like he was just speculating about Trump at a time when there was quite a big of upheaval in the Republican Party.

Remember, this conversation happened when there was a lot of angst about Trump uniting the party after his damaging rhetoric during the primary. It was only two weeks before this conversation that Paul Ryan finally decided to endorse Trump.

So honestly I don’t put any stock into McCarthy’s 2016 ruminations on this. But I’m sure he’ll be asked about it now that the secret is out of the bag, so we’ll see what he says. My guess is that he retracts it completely.

This post originally appeared on The Right Scoop

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