A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016 exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.....
Some of the lawmakers laughed at McCarthy’s comment. Then McCarthy quickly added: “Swear to God.”
Ryan instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks...This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
The remarks remained secret for nearly a year.
It was all just a joke, they say now. Yes - a joke that had to be kept within "the family".