MADISON — Another day, another bombshell report concerning Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. According to the Washington Post, a month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination for president, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy commented that he thought Trump was being paid by Russian President Vladimir Putin – Speaker Paul Ryan immediately stopped the conversation and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.
From the Washington Post:
“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.
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.
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: “Thisentire 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.