House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy was embroiled in controversy on Wednesday after The Washington Post reported a story that said McCarthy said Russian President Vladimir Putin paid Donald Trump.
Positioned at the top of The Washington Post’s headline, just below the announcement that the Department of Justice had appointed a special counsel to look into Trump’s presidential campaign’s ties to Russia, was the McCarthy story under the headline: “House majority leader to colleagues in 2016: ‘I think Putin pays’ Trump.”
The story said it heard a recording of McCarthy talking with fellow California Rep. Dana Rohbracher when McCarthy reportedly said: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”
The Post reported that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan immediately stopped the conversation and urged those in attendance to remain secret. The story was trending on social media, but McCarthy tweeted reaction to the story.
This was an attempt at humor gone wrong. No surprise @WashingtonPost tried to contort this into breaking news.— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) May 17, 2017
However, the story has touched off strong reaction on social media and was one of top trending items on Twitter. News organizations were quick to jump on the story with questions to McCarthy:
Kevin McCarthy to NBC News on @washingtonpost story: “Don't you have a sense of humor anymore? People aren't supposed to be able to laugh?” pic.twitter.com/ff7606Qtal
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) May 17, 2017
The reaction continued to build throughout the night with others weighing in on the emerging controversy:
Trump: joking when he asked Russia to hack Clinton email. Joking again when he asked Comey to lay off Flynn. Now more hilarity from McCarthy
— David Frum (@davidfrum) May 17, 2017
Here is a video from The Washington Post: