House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — one of Trump’s strongest allies in Congress — divulged a hugely explosive statement during a closed-door conversation on Capitol Hill with GOP leader buddies: He thinks Trump receives payments from Vladimir Putin.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” This statement was made in a June 15, 2016, recording that was verified by The Washington Post. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, is well known in Congress for her outspoken defense of Russia and Putin.
Immediately after the statement was made, Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) abruptly interjected and stopped the conversation, having the Republicans who were present in the conversation swear to keep it secret.
Prior to the conversation, Ryan and McCarthy had just finished talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, who had been discussing Kremlin tactics to finance populist politicians with the goal of undercutting democratic institutions in Eastern Europe.
Laughter from some of the lawmakers in response to McCarthy’s comment can be heard on the recording, with McCarthy quickly adding: “Swear to God.”
These Remarks were kept secret for almost a year.
The GOP has found itself under growing pressure over Trump’s conduct, and this conversation gives us a small glimpse into the views of GOP leaders who have been keeping their mouths shut to the public. It’s hard to tell how literal these remarks were meant to be taken, but the recording shows that GOP leaders want to keep their conversations about Russia’s election involvement VERY secret.
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