Back in 2016, when the issue with Russia’s meddling in the presidential race was just getting serious, House Majority Leader and California Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy made some private comments that he definitely wishes he wouldn’t have now that they’ve come to light.
While speaking to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and a number of other top Republicans, McCarthy literally said that he thinks that Russian President Vladimir Putin “pays” Donald Trump.
Trump, at the time, was still a Republican presidential candidate, having just risen to the top of his party’s field upon his at the time recent victory in the Indiana Republican presidential primary. In the days following that primary, to the shock of many, it became all but official that Trump would go on to the general election when the two remaining opponents to Trump dropped out of the race.
Since then, the manifold connections of the Trump team to the Russians behind the infamous meddling in the 2016 presidential election have become abundantly clear.
At the time, however, not nearly as many details had come out in full as they are now, but McCarthy, nevertheless, commented that he thought that Trump was paid by Putin. At the time, the most prominent connections to Russia on the part of Trump’s team that were publicly known were an array of policy alignments. Trump and his team made it well known that they wanted to advance Putin’s policies in the West.
McCarthy has attempted, since being notified by the Washington Post that they had a recording of the conversation, to cast his comments as a “bad joke.” Making the whole thing even more suspicious, however, is that such isn’t the initial position from House Republican leadership when confronted about McCarthy’s comments. Rather, House Republican leadership, including Paul Ryan’s and McCarthy’s offices, initially dismissed the comments as false.
It’s when the Washington Post told lawmakers that they had a recording of the conversation that they changed their story.
In the recording, Speaker Ryan admonishes those present to not leak the contents of the conversation. The lawmakers, at the time, had just concluded meeting with the Ukrainian Prime Minister to discuss his take on Russia’s efforts to influence political systems external to their own.
Watch a Washington Post reporter summarize the issue below.
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