One month before Donald Trump won the Republican nomination, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy claimed in private that Trump was likely receiving payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin. “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” the Republican leader said in audio of a June 15, 2016 exchange, listened to, verified, and reported Wednesday by The Washington Post. House Speaker Paul Ryan interrupted, stopping McCarthy mid-assertion, but when other lawmakers laughed, the majority leader added: “Swear to God.” Ryan asked those in the room to keep the conversation quiet, telling them, “No leaks… This is how we know we’re a real family here.” In response to the report, a Ryan spokesperson 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.” Rohrabacher himself told The Daily Beast’s Tim Mak that McCarthy “was just joking.” He added: “He misspoke, my gosh. Like I’ve never misspoke? I’ve been here 30 years. You’ve got to be very careful when you’re using humor.”
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Ryan: They got that in now…[unintelligible]…and he’s passing…and he’s passing all these
Rodgers: How are things going in Ukraine?
Ryan: What’s that?
Rodgers: How are things going in Ukraine?
Ryan: Well, the Russians are bombing them 30-40…um, um…shells a day and the people.
Crimea is gone. And, they’re trying to clean up their government to show that they want to be
western. So they’re trying to prove to the western world that they want to be western, or
westernizing, so they can get support to get their country back. They’re [unintelligible].
Everybody talks a good game on what they’re doing, but he’s passed all these anti-corruption
laws. The question is are they, like, executing…[unintelligible]…I think by the summer they’ll
have it all done.
Rodgers: Did he talk about their economy?
Ryan: Yeah, this is about getting actual growth and not graft growth, so…no, it’s not good, but…
Rodgers: I went there a year ago. It was like wow. These people are living…they’re on the front
lines. They’re fighting for their freedom…it’s, uh…their independence.
Ryan: He basically…He has this really interesting riff about… people have said that they have
Ukraine fatigue, and it’s really Russian fatigue because what Russia is doing is doing to us,
financing our populists, financing people in our governments to undo our governments, you
know, messing with our oil and gas energy, all the things Russia does to basically blow up our
country, they’re just going to roll right through us and go to the Baltics and everyone else.
Ryan: So we should not have Ukraine fatigue, we should have Russian fatigue.
Rodgers: Yes! The propaganda…my big takeaway from that trip was just how sophisticated the
Ryan: It’s very sophisticated.
Rodgers:…coming out of Russia and Putin.
Ryan: Very sophisticated.
[Crosstalk] Rodgers: Not just in Ukraine. They were once funding the NGOs in Europe. They attacked
Rodgers: Russia TV. I was not…you know…I hadn’t tuned into Russia TV until that trip. It’s,
Ryan: So he’s saying they’re doing this throughout Europe. So, uh…
[Unintelligible] Ryan: This is, this isn’t just about Ukraine.
Rodgers: So, yeah, it is a, um…[unintelligible]…a way…it’s really a messaging…you
know…they are…it’s a propaganda war.
Ryan: Russia is trying to turn Ukraine against itself.
Rodgers: Yes. And that’s…it’s sophisticated and it’s, uh…
Ryan: And guess…guess who’s the only one taking a strong stand up against it? We are.
Rodgers: We’re not…we’re not…but, we’re not…
McCarthy: [unintelligible]…I’ll GUARANTEE you that’s what it is.
[Unintelligible] McCarthy: The Russians hacked the DNC and got the opp research that they had on Trump.
[Crosstalk] Ryan: The Russian’s hacked the DNC…
McHenry: …to get oppo…
Ryan: …on Trump and like delivered it to…to who?
[Unintelligible] McCarthy: There’s…there’s two people, I think, Putin pays: Rohrabacher and
Trump…[laughter]…swear to God.
Ryan: This is an off the record…[laughter]…NO LEAKS…[laughter]…alright?!
[Laughter] Ryan: This is how we know we’re a real family here.
Scalise: That’s how you know that we’re tight.
[Laughter] Ryan: What’s said in the family stays in the family.