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McCarthy: Putin-pays-Trump remark ‘bad attempt at joke’

(New York Times) Did you hear the one about the Russians paying off the future president of the United States? It seems House Republicans have.

two highest-ranking members on Wednesday walked into a firestorm of their own making, negotiating the latest Republican headache after The Washington Post reported that Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the majority leader, said in a private session last year that President Trump, then a candidate, could be receiving payments from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin immediately intervened during the meeting and brought the conversation to a halt, according to a June recording reviewed by The Post, swearing his colleagues to secrecy amid laughter.

The New York Times has not obtained a recording and cannot appraise the tone of Mr. McCarthy’s original remarks. On Wednesday, he said he was just kidding.

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