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19 May 2017, 04:36 | Cedric Leonard
Their two highest-ranking members on Wednesday walked into a firestorm of their own making, negotiating the latest Republican headache after The Washington Post reported that Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the majority leader, said in a private session a year ago that President Donald Trump, then a candidate, could be receiving payments from President Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation.
The Post hasn't made the recording available, but it has a transcript in which McCarthy is quoted as saying, "There's two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump", referring to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican.
In a 2016 conversation with fellow members of House leadership, majority leader Kevin McCarthy suggested that Donald Trump was on Vladimir Putin's payroll.
McCarthy says, "There's.there's two people, I think, Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.[laughter].swear to God".
Brendan Buck, a Ryan spokesman, told the newspaper: "That never happened", but later said on Twitter: "Goodness, I don't lie".
McCarthy didn't say "I think Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is paying Trump" because that wouldn't have been amusing because it wouldn't have made any sense.
Rohrabacher said he isn't taking offense to the comments, adding he believes the majority leader made the comments in jest.
Rohrabacher, the other target of the joke, said the same on Wednesday.
"No leaks", Ryan said, according to the Post. Clearly, everyone takes Russian interference in our elections extremely seriously, which is why both the House and Senate are carrying out separate bipartisan investigations, and why the Department of Justice is carrying out their own investigation to which they just appointed a special counsel.
And McCarthy even tweeted in part: "humour gone wrong".
The other GOP official whom McCarthy mentioned, California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, has been a strong defender of Russian Federation.
"That's how you know that we're tight", chirped Scalise.
"What's said in the family stays in the family", Ryan added.
McCarthy was reportedly prompted into discussing potential ties between Trump and Putin as news had just broken the day before of detailing Russia's hacking of the Democratic National Committee. Trump last week fired FBI Director James Comey, who had overseen an investigation into such ties.
When reporters asked McCarthy why he would joke about something so controversial, he said: "You don't have a sense of humor anymore?" Paul Ryan confers with Kevin McCarthy before a news conference on Capitol Hill. That meeting came only a day after he fired FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation. Period. What was presented to me originally was far different than what they ultimately presented: an obvious joke.
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