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Was Putin Paying Candidate Trump? Congressman Says It Was Just A Joke

The second-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives claims he was joking when he said Russian leader Vladimir Putin gave money to Donald Trump during last year’s presidential race.

The New York Daily News reported that the California politician, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, could be heard making the allegation in an audiotape from a private event in June 2016. “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump. Swear to God,” the lawmaker said at the time, referring to GOP Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who has frequently complimented Putin. House Speaker Paul Ryan was among those who attended the event, according to The Washington Post.

A spokesman for Ryan initially denied that McCarthy made the remark. So did McCarthy’s staffers, who called reports about the tape “absurd and false.” However, the lawmakers’ spokesmen have since acknowledged the comment. McCarthy tweeted Wednesday morning: “This was an attempt at humor gone wrong. No surprise @WashingtonPost tried to contort this into breaking news.” The Post published transcripts of the meeting indicating that participants laughed at McCarthy’s purported joke. Ryan advised the crowd to keep quiet about it, telling them that “what’s said in the family stays in the family.”

The Daily News noted that McCarthy joined Democrats and some other Republicans in calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from Justice Department activities concerning the Russian scandal investigation. Multiple federal probes are focused on charges that Russia interfered with the U.S. election and that the Trump campaign may have been in collusion. This week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel for an independent investigation. The House and Senate intelligence committees also are looking into the affair.

Former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired last week, recently informed Congress that the bureau had been probing the scandal since July 2016. Agents are compiling information about contacts Trump campaign officials had with representatives of the Russian government during the campaign.

Michael Flynn resigned in February as a result of the fallout from him having spoken with the Russian ambassador to the United States in December. Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort stepped down last August amid reports of his past work for a pro-Putin Ukrainian official. Sessions recused himself from the Justice Department’s inquiry because he also met with the Russian ambassador last year when he was a U.S. senator and Trump campaign adviser.

Source: New York Daily News
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr & YouTube

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