Speaker of the House Paul Ryan may not have the strong family nucleus on Capitol Hill that he once thought he had.
Buried in a story about comments made by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was an interesting line from the speaker.
“No leaks. This is how we know we’re a real family here,” Ryan reportedly said to Republican leadership during a June 15 meeting on Capitol Hill. The request from Ryan came immediately after McCarthy made a remark regarding then-candidate Donald Trump and California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, according to the Washington Post.
“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy reportedly said in a recording from the meeting, which was leaked to WaPo. Some of the GOP lawmakers present laughed at McCarthy’s quip. “Swear to God,” he responded.
That’s when Ryan instructed his leadership team to keep the conversation private, telling the room not to leak anything to the press.
McCarthy contends that the remarks were a poor attempt at humor. The meeting took place one day after news broke that the Russians had hacked into the Democratic National Committee and the same day that McCarthy and Ryan met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.
“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,” Brendan Buck, spokesman for the speaker, said in an email to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“He says it very seriously,” Washington Post reporter Adam Entous told Chris Matthews Wednesday evening in reference to McCarthy’s comment. Entous said that spokespersons for McCarthy and Ryan initially denied that the conversation ever occurred. When Entous informed them that he had a transcript, they then said it was fake. McCarthy’s office didn’t acknowledge the quote until the Washington Post notified them that they had the conversation on tape.
Rohrabacher, who has a tough election coming up in 2018, responded to the comments as well. He has long argued that the United States and Russia could work closer together on issues including counter-terrorism.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher responds to WaPo story on McCarthy saying that Putin pays Rohrabacher/Trump, gets on dinosaur farts tangent pic.twitter.com/I4YFtvv8Uo
— Tim Mak (@timkmak) May 17, 2017
Ryan’s heartfelt request, invoking the term “family,” seemed to hold up for almost a year before the Washington Post revealed the recording Wednesday.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include comment from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s office.
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