House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA ) told Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his GOP colleagues last year that he thought Russian President Vladimir Putin paid Republican Donald Trump.
This happened on June 15, 2016. Spokespeople for the two Republican leaders flatly denied this, until confronted with the fact that there is a recording.
Now they claim it was a joke.
Adam Entous in the Washington Post just published this explosive report of House Republican majority leader and Speaker Paul Ryan discussing Putin paying Donald Trump back in June of 2016. This took place right after Ryan and McCarthy had talks with the Ukraine PM, who told them about “the Kremlin financing populist politicians to undercut Eastern European democratic institutions.”
The DNC had just been hacked.
According to Entous’ report, Ryan warned the group not to leak the conversation. When contacted for comment by WaPo, spokespeople for Ryan and McCarthy both strongly denied that the conversation took place. Then they were told the Washington Post had a recording, and their answers changed.
“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” the Post reported McCarthy saying, noting “Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.”
Direct quote from the WaPo reporting on the recording:
“I’ll guarantee you that’s what it is…The Russians hacked the DNC and got the opp [opposition] research that they had on Trump,” McCarthy said with a laugh.
Ryan asked who the Russians “delivered” the opposition research to.
“There’s… there’s two people, I think, Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy said, drawing some laughter. “Swear to God,” McCarthy added.
“This is an off the record,” Ryan said.
Ryan swore them to secrecy. Like you would when you were joking.
Here’s the transcript, in which they also discuss the dangers of Russian propaganda.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 17, 2017
The spokespeople for both top Republicans denied this conversation took place, until they were told there was a tape. And then they claimed it was humor.
The Republican leadership has obstructed the appointment of independent commission into Trump’s possible collusion with Russia in the House and Senate, preferring to allow Trump campaign associates to run the investigations into his campaign. Earlier today, House Republicans blocked a vote for an independent Russia probe.
Paul Ryan has repeatedly told reporters even after Trump spilled highly classified information to Russia that he trusts the President to handle classified information.
The implications of this are far-reaching and pretty unnerving. It suggests that at the very least, top Republicans suspected Putin was paying Trump and they not only looked the other way, but continue to present the false idea to the public that there is no problem with Trump’s relationship with Russia. Instead of alerting anyone, Ryan urged them to keep it a secret.
Independent Republican Evan McMullin, a former CIA operations officer, is quoted in the Post saying, “It’s true that Majority Leader McCarthy said that he thought candidate Trump was on the Kremlin’s payroll. Speaker Ryan was concerned about that leaking.”
Are the top House Republicans involved in a cover up? If not, how was swearing themselves to secrecy on this issue of not just national security but western democracy upholding their oaths of office?
Given the context of the timing of this conversation, and the plea to keep it a secret, it doesn’t pass easily as humor. It looks like the top GOP House leadership suspected that the Kremlin had a stooge who would undermine the U.S.A. in Trump and they kept silent about it and then actively discouraged an investigation into it.
This is a new low for a party that is already making Nixon’s crimes look like the play of an Eagle scout. The Russia infestation into our government could well be much worse than just a president who can be impeached.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.