The Washington Post reported last night that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was caught on tape saying Putin is "paying" Donald Trump during a conservation with Speaker Paul Ryan and congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers last year.
McCarthy says it was a joke. I don't believe it was, but I also don't believe that's the most damning thing McCarthy and Ryan talked about in private.
Before McCarthy "joked" about his party's nominee being on Putin's payroll, Ryan laid out exactly how Russia is undermining western democracy.
(you can read the full transcript here)
RYAN: [Prime Minister Vladimir Groysman] basically…He has this really interesting riff about… people have said that they have Ukraine fatigue, and it’s really Russian fatigue because what Russia is doing is doing to us, financing our populists, financing people in our governments to undo our governments, you know, messing with our oil and gas energy, all the things Russia does to basically blow up our country, they’re just going to roll right through us and go to the Baltics and everyone else.
RYAN: So we should not have Ukraine fatigue, we should have Russian fatigue.
RODGERS: Yes! The propaganda...my big takeaway from that trip was just how sophisticated the propaganda…
RYAN: It’s very sophisticated.
RODGERS:...coming out of Russia and Putin.
RYAN: Very sophisticated.
RYAN: Russia is trying to turn Ukraine against itself.
RODGERS: Yes. And that’s...it’s sophisticated and it’s, uh...
RYAN: And guess...guess who’s the only one taking a strong stand up against it? We are.
RODGERS: We’re not...we’re not...but, we’re not...
Ryan, McCarthy, McMorris Rodgers knew exactly what Russia was and is doing. They know all about it. They know Russia is undermining Democracy by promoting faux populists like Trump in America, Le Pen in France, and Farage in Britain. They know Russia is undermining Democracy by turning populations against themselves. And when Russia did the same thing here, Paul Ryan and his colleagues didn't do a goddamn thing about it.
Trump was Putin's vehicle to undermine America Democracy, and they knew it, but Ryan and the Republicans had plenty of other reasons and opportunities to dump him. They could have dumped Trump when he bragged about routinely sexually assaulting women. They could have, you know, dumped Trump when he explicitly asked the Russians to find Hillary Clinton's emails.
There were plenty of moments when Republicans could have safely dumped Trump without admitting he was Putin's puppet, but they didn't.
Why not? Because cutting taxes for the rich and capping Medicaid, just as Paul Ryan fantasized about over a keg all those years ago, was more important than protecting the integrity of American democracy.
The Republican party is rotten to the core but Paul Ryan stands atop them all as the most depraved and wicked creature of American politics today. There is no one more responsible for our current political circumstances than he is. The motivation that drives Paul Ryan is barely removed from what drives serial killers.