Ryan, McCarthy Both Deny Nasty Remark About Trump, But It Turns Out There’s a Recording

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Last year, after a meeting with the Ukranian prime minister, the #2 Republican in the House turned to Paul Ryan and said, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” That’s from Rep. Kevin McCarthy, and it’s apparently what he thought back in June after Trump had won the Republican nomination. Ryan quickly shushed him, but the Washington Post found out about it today:

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: “This entire 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.”

Good on Adam Entous of the Post for getting a response from both men before they knew he had a recording. It’s good for the public to understand how shamelessly and effortlessly they’ll flatly lie about anything they think they can get away with.

Anyway, the current explanation is that this was all just a big joke.1 That’s also the latest excuse making the rounds for Trump asking James Comey to kill the Russia investigation.2 There sure are a lot of jokers in the Republican Party these days.

UPDATE: The transcript is here. McCarthy says, “There’s…there’s two people, I think, Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump…[laughter]…swear to God.” Then there’s more laughter. So yeah, it sounds like it was just a joke, though probably in a “funny cuz it’s true” sort of sense.

1Actually, I can buy this. McCarthy’s comment really does sound like dark humor. Still, even if he didn’t mean it literally, it shows just what he thought about Trump and the Russians. In humor, veritas.

2This is pretty ridiculous in the case of Trump, since as near as I can tell he has no sense of humor and never laughs about anything. That’s probably because he’s too busy obsessing about how badly everyone treats him.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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