House Speaker Paul Ryan sounded quite spooked on Friday when he spoke about the leaked recording on which House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy can be heard saying that he believed two people were on Vladimir Putin’s payroll — Donald Trump and California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.
The existence recording was revealed by the Washington Post, which released a transcript of it. The Majority Leader responded by saying that he was merely joking, a sentiment which was echoed by the House Speaker, who was also heard on the recording warning those present against leaking the conversation — Ryan was apparently unaware of the fact that they were being recorded.
The recording predated the 2016 presidential election, but was just a couple of weeks after Ryan had endorsed then-candidate Donald Trump.
On Friday, Ryan sounded clearly worried that other tapes may surface. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” the Speaker told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt. “There was somebody who taped a meeting a year ago where our majority leader cracked a joke and then they released the tape of that joke out just a few days ago and that’s a pretty bizarre thing to happen. So obviously that’s a cause of concern of ours.”
Ryan also speculated about the source of the leak, without making any direct accusations. Hewitt asked him whether he believed that the leaker was Evan McMullin, McMullin is the former CIA officer who mounted a presidential run as an independent, giving the two frontrunners a run for their money in his home state of Utah. “I’m not going to speculate on who it is,” Ryan responded. “That’s the name that most people, you know, you hear about.”
McMullin was a staffer for GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, who is also heard on the recording.
However, the Washington Post has informed Axios, privately, that McMullin was not the leaker, though he has previously alluded to the remarks made by the Majority Leader in a New York Times op-ed.