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Rep. McCarthy Says Putin Pay Was Just a Joke


House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy says he was just kidding when he said Russian President Vladimir Putin pays Donald Trump.

“It’s a bad attempt at a joke; that’s all there is to it,” McCarthy told reporters on Thursday, in remarks reported by The New York Times. “No one believes it to be true from any stretch of the fact.”

McCarthy’s defense came after The Washington Post reported that the Republican leader from California told several of his colleagues in June of 2016 that he thought Putin paid Trump. “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy said to laughs in a recording obtained by the Post. He was referring to California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who is known as a fierce Russia defender in Congress.

The recording includes an interjection from House Speaker Paul Ryan, who stopped the conversation and told his colleagues not to speak of it.

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